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2022: The opportunities and challenges ahead

By Andy Rich, managing partner at HW Fisher

As we enter 2022, we continue to adapt to the new reality that is emerging in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. There are both challenges and new opportunities on the horizon as we look ahead to the next 12 months. Andy Rich, Managing Partner at HW Fisher shares his priorities and expectations for the year ahead.

Opportunities for business growth

In the last 18 months, we have experienced new records when it comes to global transformation. The pace of change is rapid. The pandemic has demonstrated the need for speed and adaptability in business, and M&A is one way that companies can really fast-track to where they want to be.

Investment companies / private equity who have not invested much in the last year are now needing to make investments. Trade buyers who have seen opportunities to expand – for example, companies needing to add a tech/e-commerce dimension to an existing trade – may make an acquisition rather than looking to develop those capabilities in-house which will be much slower.

Yet challenges are on the horizon for global businesses…

As we head into 2022, businesses are looking forward and growth ambitions are beginning to increase. However, this is against a backdrop of global supply issues, inflationary pressures, high energy prices and labour and trade shortages.

Companies will need to invest in more storage facilities in the medium term as the just-in-time model of delivery looks to be coming to an end. Also, the success of the Covid vaccination programme needs to be experienced globally so that supply issues can be properly fixed.

Finally, inflation will likely be transitory but is thought to exceed 4% next year so companies will need to increase their prices whilst predicting elasticity and reaction of consumers.

The role we play as accountants in disclosure and ESG will continue to grow 

As a profession, we have a huge opportunity (and responsibility) to apply our experience to the fight against climate change.

Accountants can insist on ensuring directors face up to their responsibilities by reviewing accounting disclosures, such as how their people are being treated given they are the company’s greatest asset, as well as the environmental issues which are of interest to sustainability minded investors. Of course, many of these are not always easy to quantify.

The power of allyship – we still have a lot to learn

It’s early days, and as a profession we still have a lot to learn when it comes to allyship. Across the industry there is a “fear of getting it wrong” – many people worry about saying the wrong thing, or acting as an ally to someone who might not want help. Opening the conversation is the first step. We’ll never progress if we don’t learn together. As a firm, we believe allyship is about being kind and compassionate – it’s about listening, and it’s vital that everyone is given a voice as part of this.

I hope that in the year ahead, we continue to open up to learn, be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and recognise we all have an opportunity to do better.

By Andy Rich, managing partner at HW Fisher

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