Southern Newsletter, August 2020
News from the Southern District Society.
Our regional economy
The Frenchman who in 1849 wrote: “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose” could well have been predicting life in summer 2020. The coronavirus pandemic runs on and on… the statistics, the scientific advice, and the economic prognostications change and change about, as we learn more about the virus, and its impact on the economy, becomes ever clearer and costlier. But the underlying fears - for health, job security, business survival, holidays and children’s education - continue unabated.
Against this background, the online Southern Economic Outlook Roundtable on 28 July, which was chaired by Iain Wright, ICAEW director of business and industrial strategy, was remarkably upbeat. That is not in any way to deny the severity of the present downturn, with GDP expected to drop by 8.8% this year, a bigger hit than Spanish flu delivered for 1921. The region certainly benefits from its proximity to London, however, and some of the dozen or so members attending proffered interesting and even surprising comments. To quote:
“Hospitality is coming back faster than I thought,” from a practice member.
“It’s business as usual for us, with almost the entire workforce working from home and not coming back to the office any time soon,” from a business member in the energy sector.
And, “Our construction sites started up slowly, but we are now getting better work and clients,” said another.
There was general agreement that this is the time to look at such difficult matters as productivity that have been on the back burner for a decade, the overall potential for jobs losses, and the need to re-engineer business models. Office space requirements and the London premium attaching to some salaries were both expected to fall; and January to March 2021 could be difficult as tax and VAT payments become due.
And much more online
Regionally, we are continuing our virtual Members in Business Briefings, Practice Updates, Town Group meetings and our Sector Group events, with an active programme throughout what remains of the holiday season. Please see the ICAEW Events listing to reserve your place.
It’s more important than ever to attend our AGM this year as this is your opportunity to help steer our online events programme going forward. Please diarise the date 8 September; the time, 12 - 1pm; and the venue - online on our Lifesize account.
Meanwhile, here are profiles of two of further candidates for office. Both are newbies to ICAEW Southern’s committee, and eager to take up the opportunities it presents.
Profile: Louise Hallsworth
Louise Hallsworth is an audit and assurance partner in James Cowper Kreston’s Southampton office. She is keen to give back to ICAEW Southern and is happy to be proposed for the deputy president’s role.
Although Louise is a farmer’s daughter from Suffolk she has spent most of her professional life in the ICAEW Southern region. Having trained at KPMG in Southampton and qualifying in 1989, she then worked in Salisbury for 18 years while bringing up her children. She returned to Southampton three and a half years ago.
While it is always risky to pigeonhole complex and interesting people there are four words that encapsulate Louise’s journey to date: logic, people, passion and horses. It was logical that she should become a chartered accountant. “Accountancy sort of chose me,” she said. “I was good at maths and thought accountants would be good at maths (I got that wrong!). I did an accountancy degree and everything seemed to make sense – so I continued!” A natural, logical progression.
Passion and people explain why Louise chose the profession rather than business. A short stint in industry taught her that what really appeals is working with people, whatever they do, entrepreneurs or the owners of SMEs. “I love working in situations where what happens with a client’s business affects them personally and where I can add a great deal of value,” she said. “Professional practice gives me the opportunity to get to know my clients - they become friends and what happens to them really matters.”
As regards volunteering, Louise already does a few charity and church accounts outside of work and previously acted as Hampshire treasurer for British Show Jumping until it was taken in house. (Horses and show jumping have always been a passion, and her daughters are much involved in the sport, with one of them a professional.)
Louise has now reached a point in her career where she has some time to give back. Proud to be an ICAEW member and passionate about the profession and supporting the members, she is keen to contribute. “If on being elected I made a difference to just one member, I would have achieved something, but I hope I can do much more and support all our members in whatever capacity they require in these in surreal and uncertain times,” she concluded.
Profile: Simon Laws
Simon Laws is standing for election to the post of treasurer for ICAEW Southern, as a first time volunteer for the district society. He is currently finance director for Magicard, a Weymouth-based company that manufactures and distributes ID card printers and consumables.
What motivates him is the desire to drive performance and support the teams he works with. Add to this his enthusiasm for the services and events that ICAEW Southern provides, and for networking, you can see why he is up for this role.
Simon is Poole born and bred, though he went off to read economics at the University of Birmingham and stayed in that city to train with Grant Thornton, qualifying in 2012. After a few years in London, where he moved from the practice to business, he settled in Poole in 2017.
Some people have a memorable teacher or mentor who sets them onto a specific career path at an early age. Simon’s trigger was work experience with Mazars in Poole at the age of 14, which first got him thinking seriously about chartered accountancy An internship with the management consulting firm Accenture, while at university, crystallised that idea, and since then he has acquired traits and tips from each manager or mentor he has worked with.
In describing a fast-moving career pattern, he modestly claims: “All my skills and ideas are borrowed!” And notes that: “Each of those managers and experiences has pushed me to take on different roles and try to continue developing into as rounded a professional as possible.”
He continues: “My motivation for leaving practice for industry was to develop a genuine ability to drive performance within a business and to make real positive changes… and that is probably the area that I enjoy the most. I do, of course, enjoy many other parts of my role such as having the opportunity to develop a team, and making the MD/CEO look good by providing all the information, analysis and advice needed to reach the correct decisions.”
As it’s early days, Simon is cagey about what he wants to achieve on ICAEW Southern’s committee, admitting that he needs to learn more about the role and the society before committing to specific aims. However he is keen to support members outside of practice, and has really enjoyed the Members in Business updates and other district society events he has attended. Watch this space.
Please note: There is no charge for any of ICAEW Southern’s virtual events , they just require registration on the ICAEW Events pages.
And my last word. It has been a challenging, fascinating, often highly enjoyable and occasionally frustrating experience to serve as president of ICAEW Southern for the past two and half years. Just before handing over to my successor, I would extend many thanks to everyone I have worked with and whose support I have received during that time. Your contributions have been great, and greatly appreciated. I wish you all of the best in your future endeavours.
ICAEW Southern President, May 2018 - September 2020