WHAT LIES AHEAD? INTO 2022

17 January 2022

The Fortus Team

The Fortus Team

our service line and sector heads reflect on 2021 and share their views on what opportunities 2022 might present for businesses.

Andrew Johnson, Director – Head of Sport &
Entertainment

As a nation, England continues to be one of the dominant world leaders, both in sporting success and the economy. However, there’s still huge improvement needed for player advice, structure and general wellbeing.

Fortus Business Advisors and Accountants are stepping into 2022 with some real momentum in the sports and entertainment sector. After working with many clients and organisations, it’s clear there’s still an alarming need for good advice and structure overview. This comes down to lack of knowledge and poor advice previously received.

We’re working in collaboration with those clients to instil good habits and focus on mindset. This approach means they’re structured in the most efficient way with full visibility and understanding over their invested future.

The past nine months have really taken my passion to a different level in working with young, current, and retired athletes who’ve an active interest in business. I look forward to building on some fantastic long working relationships with inspiring individuals and businesses.

 

Ant Brice – Head of Accounts & Outsourcing

Over the years Accounts and Outsourcing compliance has remained a relatively static offering for accountancy firms. However, significant changes are underway and will continue into the foreseeable future. These changes are largely linked to the ‘Making Tax Digital’ approach being taken by HMRC.

The good news is, the digital offering from a number of software providers is driving efficiencies and accessibility to data for business owners. At Fortus we’re continually reviewing what we can do with this more regular, accurate data to assist our clients in running their businesses effectively.

For us, these changes give us the platform to spend more valuable time advising our clients and helping them maximise opportunities which are identified from the accounting compliance work we do for them.

 

 

Rob Quinn, Executive Director – Creative
Industries

It’s been nearly two years of fluctuating trading conditions for some, but not all, organisations operating within the Creative Industries. Business leaders within certain areas of the sector have seen an upturn in commercial performance in the last quarter and heading into 2022 are cautiously optimistic about what next year, and beyond, holds in store for them and their business.

A recent survey conducted by Fortus and The Alliance of Independent Agencies pointed to aspects of sustainability, agile working, as well as mental health and wellbeing all being on the corporate agenda.

At Fortus we’re seeing a high level of activity within marketing services, digital and content production, in addition to film and television production. Overall, the creative industry appears to be increasingly buoyant with hope of a full recovery very much on the horizon. We continue to support clients across the sector in aspects of Corporate Finance, Tax Advisory, Innovation Tax Reliefs, HR and Property, in addition to their day-to-day business finance requirements using experts who’ve directly worked in the creative sector over many years.

 

Stephen Watts, Director – Head of Built Environment

There’s no doubt that 2021 was a year filled with continued challenges for the construction industry from the pandemic and Brexit. Despite this, the sector’s experienced decent growth and managed to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

We’ve seen first-hand the incredible resolve, drive and innovation from clients across all disciplines in the sector, and many have experienced significant growth this year. There are signs however that the sector is losing momentum as supply chain disruption and staff shortages put pressure on costs with rising prices weighing on demand.

The unpredictable pricing environment had slowed clients’ decision making on new orders and led to delays with contract awards which unfortunately looks likely to carry forward into 2022.

But where there are challenges, there’s also an opportunity to face it.

 

Emma Jones – Head of Audit

As more of the top 10 audit firms battle for a share of the FTSE350 audits from the Big 4, we continue to see an increase in SME businesses feeling disappointed at being disregarded by their existing auditor.

Whilst some of the changes in the proposed audit reforms are looking to be scaled back, we still anticipate further movement in the sector. This presents opportunities to firms, like us, who value each and every one of our clients, irrespective of size.

Our team are passionate about getting to know your business so we can provide valuable insight as part of the audit process and sound recommendations for improvement.

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Dymond, Director – Head of Property

As we move into 2022, the property market continues to move at a rapid pace with impacts of Covid continuing to drive change across all sectors.

The end of March 2022 signals a hard cut-off date to deal with any Covid-related rent arrears, as well as any landlord and tenant disputes that have been bubbling under the surface for the past couple of years. The legislation is due out shortly to clarify the Arbitration process for any disputes that cannot be resolved amicably.

Demand for industrial property continues to outstrip supply and retail markets continue to struggle (albeit with green shoots of redevelopment and innovation in our town centres and planning policy changes providing optimism in places). The office market also remains in flux with the changing picture on home working and company policies. Many offices remain at only partial occupancy levels which will inevitably drive changes for physical space requirements going forward.

 

 

Vic Ulfik – Head of Innovation Tax Reliefs

As innovators, you have more tax reliefs available to you than you realise.

R&D Tax Credits – much abused, poorly understood and rarely done well!

As innovators, you have more tax reliefs available to you than you realise. Identifying and gaining your eligible tax reliefs is not about paying the smallest fee to a person or company you have never met.

Tax advice is personal and requires skill, industry expertise and in-depth knowledge of you and your business. We’re not a boutique. We’re a full-service business and accountancy advisor with the scope and expertise to give you the support you need.

Innovators, like you, want to innovate because that’s where your passion lies, not in looking for tax advice and guidance. Let us help you. Get 2022 started with a conversation to discover how Fortus can provide the sound business advice to ensure you receive the tax reliefs available to you.

Bruce Keir – Senior HR Consultant

Over the past two years we have seen a dramatic shift in our ways of working which has led to new challenges in terms of employee management. It’s become normal for some businesses to implement hybrid working conditions, conducting the majority of meetings over video calls and ultimately managing employees remotely.

Uncertainty continues into 2022 with changing Covid rules such as recommendations on working from home where possible. It’s apparent these challenges are going to remain for some time.

That said, from what we’ve seen over the past two years, businesses will continue to adapt to the situation. We’ve seen some fantastic initiatives around onboarding new employees remotely, increasing communication within and across teams, knowledge sharing, working collaboratively and increasing productivity whilst keeping employee wellbeing at the forefront of businesses decision making.

 

Debbie Ince – Head of Tax Compliance

As we move towards ‘Making Tax Digital’ for tax compliance in 2024, we are working on developing options to help and support clients as their compliance requirements with HMRC increase. There’ll be more on this from the Fortus team over the next few months.

As a company we complete tax returns for over 7,500 personal tax clients and 3,000 corporate clients so we have plenty of experience in filing personal and corporate tax returns; preparing P11d’s and sharing scheme submissions to name just a few areas. However – tax compliance is about so much more than just completing tax returns.

We also help businesses with planning their remuneration in a tax efficient way, plan for their own and their families’ futures, assist people as they look to move from or to the UK, plan the most efficient use of losses and help with HMRC enquiries.

So yes, we will prepare your tax returns but above that, we want to help you add value to all your personal and business needs, so please talk to us as you plan for the future.

Paul Jepps, Director – Head of Service Charge

Fortus introduces FORSITE to help your property management businesses improve efficiency.

For almost two years businesses across all sectors have re-aligned working practices to safeguard their teams and meet government guidelines – property management is no exception. Working from home has been a significant change for everyone working in finance teams. I think we can all agree our people have adapted and embraced this new working approach positively and the success of this has been supported by new technology.

It’s not come without its challenges though.

With people working from different locations, the tracking of workflows has become burdensome. With this in mind, it feels like a great time to share some exciting news. At Fortus, we’ve been developing our very own new software, FORSITE, which addresses this problem head on. We’re currently onboarding our clients to ensure their December year ends are captured. Get in touch to find out more about our new, interactive workflow and query management system.

 

Mark Standish, Director – Head of Corporate Finance

Activity in the Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) market has remained buoyant and we at Fortus Corporate Finance expect this to continue. The private equity and secondary debt markets remain strong, and so there is liquidity to fund acquisitions.

The last two years have been challenging for most businesses, although some have thrived in a world of online, remote working and PPE. Those that struggled were propped up by generous government support, and we wait to see the impact as it’s withdrawn. During 2021 we worked with a number of ambitious companies to support their acquisition strategy, and 2022 looks to be a good year for opportunities.

We also supported the sale of businesses to trade and private equity, and increasingly helped business owners to design internal solutions with their management and staff. These included traditional management buyouts (MBO), our creative ‘transitional MBO’, and exciting options afforded by Employee Ownership Trusts (EOT).

Additionally, our Debt Advisory team helped clients secure finance for growth, acquisition or asset purchase, with access to over 100 lenders and all government loan schemes. During the last year we completed 23 deals and are currently working on a further 15 going into 2022.

 

Richard Buckby, Director – Head of Not for Profit

The start of a new year is a time of reflection for many, looking back at the ups and downs of the previous year and ahead to the possibilities and opportunities of the coming year. We’re nearly two years on from the Covid pandemic hitting the UK and the challenges of the virus are very much still with us.

Schools have been impacted more than most, with established structures of education delivery being turned upside down by the constraints of lockdown, self-isolation, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Academy finances have generally been resilient during this time, with normal funding streams remaining constant and some minor additional support from the government. However, supplementary income for the use of school premises and sports halls has seen a considerable drop and may continue to be impacted as we watch and wait for further data on the Omicron variant.

 

Covid aside, the key challenges for Trusts in 2022 will include:

  • Continuing to balance budgets whilst striving to deliver outstanding education and outcomes for pupils
  • Strengthening Trust Boards and local governing bodies by broadening the skills base of Trustees and Governors
  • Continuing to develop effective internal scrutiny structures and processes to manage risk
  • Considering joining a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) or expanding a MAT
  • Improvements in management reporting and adoption of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) chart of accounts.

 

David McGeachy – Head of VAT

As we look forward to 2022, many businesses are still grappling with Brexit and its long-term impact on their supply chains, ability to service customers and trading with the EU. These factors, coupled with the deep and long-lasting changes to the ways many of us are now working, continue to ripple across our economy.

We expect some further bumps along the road in the first six months of 2022 as tighter rules are introduced on Customs clearances for EU trade.

I would love to tell you that HMRC have risen to this challenge and their helplines are fully staffed and open for business. Unfortunately, fewer human resources at HMRC are available to help businesses comply. Instead, you’ll now find an overload of HMRC online information publications that appear to include links to other HMRC online publications. Clients regularly tell me they feel they’re literally going round in ‘clicking’ circles. The result is: brevity at the cost of clarity; screens padded with HMRC banners, footers, logos and empty space where the real advice and guidance businesses need should be.

We’ve always helped clients cut through the noise and get to the nub of the issue. As an advisor of over 20 years’ experience in VAT, I continue to believe a successful business surrounds itself with advisors who understand their business and are fully prepared to roll up their sleeves to help them find solutions to allow them to ‘do business’ successfully.

If any of these challenges resonate, or you need support for the year ahead, reach out to the Fortus team.

 

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