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A time to celebrate and reflect

Author: ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty

Published: 27 Oct 2022

In its 25th Anniversary year, the Corporate Finance Faculty remains as relevant as ever. David Petrie, ICAEW’s head of corporate finance, explains its continued commitment to members.
This year, your Corporate Finance faculty celebrates its 25th anniversary. In that time, the faculty has grown into the largest network of corporate finance professionals: more than 7,000 members; more than 80 member organisations; and more than 40% of its membership coming from outside of ICAEW. As our membership has grown over the years, so has the influence of the faculty – and by extension the reach of the ICAEW – in what is a hugely significant area of advisory fee income for member firms. 


Influence and representation 

The faculty’s relevance to advisers and investors has grown hand in hand with our influence in shaping regulation and policy. And that would not be the case were it not for the fact that we have such a broad membership, open to dialogue around key issues facing corporate financiers. We serve an active and engaged membership. Senior professionals at our member firms are giving of their time and help, be it publications, our events programme or consultations.  

The faculty’s board and technical committee set the strategic direction of the faculty and provide expert insight to inform our views on consultations, be they from government, the Takeover Panel, the Financial Reporting Council or other bodies. ICAEW capital markets policy senior manager Katerina Joannou’s work with the technical committee, who I thank for giving their time freely, has been a credit to the faculty throughout my time here. Their help in our long consultation on the National Security and Investment Act 2021 was invaluable, and particularly so in helping me prepare for giving evidence before the parliamentary committee. More recently, we have been actively involved in engaging with Government and representing the position of our membership on the UK Secondary Capital Raising Review.  

Corporate finance is evolving in its use and delivery of advice using technology. No doubt regulation will influence how we do this in the future and that is where our influence has proved so important in the careful shaping of regulation. Our ability to garner the views of the wide range of member firms and present them as a thought-through whole has ensured that our voice has been relevant and will remain so. To give just one example, I am a member of the government’s Business Finance Council, representing members views and those of ICAEW. Having that position is in no small part thanks to the strength of the faculty, which comes from its membership. 

Guidance and analysis 

In the 12 years that I have been head of corporate finance at ICAEW, the faculty has published guidelines on Cybersecurity in Corporate Finance; three editions of Private Equity Demystified; and, with the British Business Bank, the Business Finance Guide, which has been distributed in either hard copy or electronic form to more than one million UK businesses. We have published best practice guidance on completion mechanisms, artificial intelligence in corporate advisory, intellectual property in M&A, financial due diligence, financial modelling and on valuation issues in deals. Just last month, with the specialist team at Deloitte, we published our guideline ESG in Deals and Investment. The new guideline provides practical guidance on how to integrate ESG into an M&A, whether acting for buy-side or sell-side, as well as how to identify, quantify and deliver its value potential over the M&A life cycle.  
Now approaching its 250th edition, Corporate Financier magazine holds a unique market position as the only dedicated publication on corporate finance, delivering analysis on the commercial themes and regulatory developments shaping the deal landscape. The magazine helps us engage with many of our members and shine a light on the individuals and businesses effecting real change in the industry. Working in tandem with our busy events programme, it enables us to promote the biggest issues shaping the profession; diversity, ESG and technology.  
We will continue to serve our members with inspirational stories from across our membership and interesting sector trends which drive deals. As media consumption habits change, we will ensure that we offer the magazine in the format and frequency that works best for our members.  

Today and tomorrow 

For many of us, this has already been a year like no other. Still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, societies and economies have faced further pain through conflict and crises of economic confidence. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent impact on energy supplies have compounded continued supply-chain complexities and led to the increasing prospect of a global recession. Extreme weather has ravaged many parts of the globe this year too – a stark reminder of the longstanding challenge of climate change.  

Here in the UK, we have experienced generational levels of political change and instability. The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II marked the end of the second Elizabethan era and the beginning of the second Carolean. There have also been new beginnings in Government, with Rishi Sunak becoming the third Prime Minister of 2022.   

In the face of increasingly challenging economic conditions, businesses and their employees and stakeholders have shown great resilience, adaptability and commitment. These are qualities that will be integral to how we collectively tackle further future national and global headwinds. Some issues will be similar to those faced before, but some will surely be brand new. Thoughtful advice will be needed to steer businesses through the coming challenges and how M&A opportunities are assessed will need careful thought. 

An awful lot can change in a quarter of a century. The UK economy, the world economy and society are very different now to when the faculty was launched. And, of course, the investment landscape has changed dramatically too. In recent years, the balance between bank provision of debt, versus debt fund provision has shifted. The sheer amount of private equity capital invested and available, and the range of businesses private equity is invested in, bears little resemblance to the late 1990s. 

But corporate finance, the doing of deals, still relies on a network and your faculty seeks to nurture that network for you. As we look forward to the next 25 years, and the transformations and opportunities that will bring, I will endeavour to ensure that your faculty remains as relevant as ever. We will continue to work on your behalf in the face of continuing economic pressures, market and regulatory challenges.