A ROUNDUP OF OUR ‘NAVIGATING THE NOW AND NEXT’ EVENT – THURSDAY 31 MARCH

The fourteenth in the series of PM+M’s ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ virtual panel events took place on Thursday 31 March, facilitating discussion between a panel of speakers on the current challenges faced by businesses and highlighting support, guidance and best practice to navigate these going forwards.

Hosted by our very own Neil Welsh, with digital hosting managed by our friends at The Landmark in Burnley, we welcomed panellists:

Frazer Durris – CEO, Businesswise Solutions

Caroline James – Managing Director, Trevor Dawson Commercial Property Consultants

Paul Spencer – Partner, PM+M

Jenny Heyes – Head of People Projects, Napthens LLP

Following the opening introduction and welcome from Neil, Frazer Durris (Businesswise Solutions) kicked off proceedings by discussing something very apt in the current climate – rising energy prices.  Frazer explained how inflationary pressures, in particular the volatility caused by the Ukraine-Russia crisis, may cause a problem in the short term for the energy sector, but there is a positive takeaway in that the UK are now looking at more sustainable sources of energy which will hopefully reduce the reliance on volatile gas prices in the long term. Furthermore, the ongoing trend of more businesses placing sustainability and low-carbon at the forefront on their agenda has seen a rise in salary sacrifice schemes for electric vehicles and the installation of EV charging points and solar panels – something which we may see gain even more traction moving forward due to rising fuel prices. However, Frazer explained that there is an especially high demand for solar electricity panels at the moment – warning attendees of the current lead time of 30 weeks.

Caroline James (Trevor Dawson Commercial Property Consultants) steered the conversation towards trends in the property sector, describing how the Lancashire property market is holding reasonably well given the threat of inflation – partially due to the reliability of the industries and family businesses around East Lancashire (of which engineering is very successful) and overseas investment (mainly coming from Europe and America).

Caroline went on describe the problems she has encountered with the fast-increasing prices of property and land in the area, which could be detrimental in the long term. Commercial property prices have increased by about 30%-40% in the last two years and rent has seen an increase of 50% (from £4 per square ft. 3 years prior, to £6 per square ft.). Caroline described how a solution to this problem may be for businesses to look at greenbelt land or consider a merger with another business in the industry to ease the struggles of finding space.

Next up, Paul Spencer (PM+M) detailed his own experience of a merger, between Haworths Chartered Accountants and PM+M. Paul described the reasons why Haworths were looking to merge with another firm, including succession planning and struggles with recruitment, detailing how PM+M were the perfect fit as we share a client-focused approach. There was an assurance that clients could be handled more efficiently, due to the variety of services offered at PM+M, as well as the certainty that employees at Haworths now had a secure future.

Our final panellist, Jenny Heyes (Napthens LLP), discussed her role as the Head of People and Projects at Napthens, detailing how inflation is further increasing the challenges businesses are currently facing in terms of staff retention and recruitment, otherwise called the ‘great resignation’. Jenny suggested that problems could be alleviated through strategic workforce and succession planning – offering employees improved salaries is one option but opportunities for career growth, development and culture are also valued in the current climate with rising living costs and inflationary pressures.

Additionally, Jenny detailed how employee branding is becoming a significant factor in the recruitment field, where the focus is on the value-add, positive influence and corporate social responsibility of a business, and what this can offer potential employees when deciding on their next move.

Neil brought the panel discussion to a close and opened the floor to the audience, with additional comments and thoughts from Andy Platt (Simply Corporate), Azeem Khan (Gemini GRP) and Claire Rhodes (The Landmark), before thanking Claire for hosting the event.

If anyone would like to be introduced to members of the panel or audience, included in the invite for next month’s event or wish to speak to one of the PM+M team about our services, please get in touch with Neil Welsh via the button below.

A ROUNDUP OF OUR ‘NAVIGATING THE NOW AND NEXT’ EVENT – THURSDAY 27 JANUARY

The twelfth in the series of PM+M’s ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ virtual panel events took place on Thursday 27 January, facilitating discussion between a panel of speakers on the ongoing challenges presented to businesses and highlighting what support is available as we look to the future.

Hosted by our very own Neil Welsh, with digital hosting managed by our friends at The Landmark in Burnley, we welcomed panellists:

Mark Williams – MD, Greenbank Technology

Paul Sharples – Business Solutions Manager, Burnley College

Jeanette Berry – Head of Private Client, Portfolio Legal

Roger Phillips – Tax Director, PM+M

Following the opening introduction and welcome from Neil, Mark Williams began the proceedings by discussing his role as Managing Director at Greenbank Technology and how he helped the business recover and thrive following his appointment.  Mark reassured business owners that it is possible to recover reduced turnover and losses with improvements to company culture and employee engagement. Mark cited open communication with his employees, positive challenge and teamwork as paramount to the ongoing success of the business.

Mark also discussed the increasing importance of sustainability in the capital equipment industry, noting that customers would inquire beyond the recyclability of their products to the sustainability of the machines used to create them. In addition to the importance of sustainability to consumers, sustainable thinking can benefit businesses – for example, it can help them decrease their costs on energy, which in turn, reduces their carbon footprint.

To carry on the conversation of sustainability, Neil welcomed Paul Sharples (Burnley College). Paul spoke of how conversations about sustainability are picking up more traction – particularly where funding and bidding is concerned, notably in regard to the Strategic Development Fund. He talked us through various local projects and collaborations, including some of the innovative solutions to be implemented onsite at Burnley College to showcase best practice in a low carbon world.

Neil steered the conversation to the future of apprenticeships. Paul highlighted that there is an enthusiastic demand for apprentices from employers and a definite increase in demand for apprenticeships from young people.  There seems to be an increased calibre of young people coming through colleges, which impressed businesses – Mark agreed with this statement and shared his experience of being highly impressed when speaking to students during a Burnley College COP26 event.

Next up, Neil introduced Jeanette Berry who works in Private Client law, collaborating with individuals to maintain their wealth and potentially minimise tax. Jeanette made many valuable points, particularly about the creation of wills. Although more and more people are aware of the importance of having a will, there are still many people without one. Jeanette warned against researching wills online and ‘doing it yourself’, without taking legal advice, which could lead to negative outcomes when it is too late to resolve. She also expressed the importance of taking legal advice from an expert you can trust and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney – should the unexpected happen. She added that business owners, especially sole directors, should consider putting a business Lasting Power of Attorney in place as part of their disaster planning.

Our final panellist was PM+M’s very own Roger Phillips – he overlaid Jeanette’s valuable contributions by adding that, with common law, there was a risk of a hefty inheritance tax for unmarried spouses without a will. Roger then gave some insight into the possible forecasting for tax policy, mindful that this tax year will soon end on 6 April 2022.

Here are some of his tax tips:

  • Given that National Insurance tax will rise, business owners may benefit from bringing forward bonuses through salaries or wage increases to before tax year end to avoid the additional 1.25% national insurance charge
  • Stick money into your pension pot to help stay below income tax thresholds. Important when the government could possibly limit the amount you are able to pay to benefit from tax relief in future (currently standing at £40,000 per year)
  • Make use of any allowances, including ISAs, before the tax year end to benefit from tax efficient growth or income, not only for yourself but also for your family

Roger then reiterated Jeanette’s point on how it was better to liaise with an expert in the field when making a financial decision, rather than looking for a cheaper option and giving yourself the best chance of a positive outcome.

Neil brought the panel discussion to a close and opened the floor to the audience, with additional comments and thoughts from Helen Clayton (PM+M), Andy Platt (Simply Corporate), Paul Nicholls (Barclays Corporate) and Dave Scholes (Six Connections) before thanking the panel and Claire Rhodes (The Landmark) for hosting the event.

If anyone would like to be introduced to members of the panel or audience, included in the invite for next month’s event or wish to speak to one of the PM+M team about our services, please get in touch with Neil Welsh via the button below.