Article as featured in the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Ambition Magazine (Nov/Dec 2022).
If recent years have taught us anything, it is that life is uncertain and that we must be prepared for anything.
Economic uncertainty can force a business to prepare for a future that it might not have envisaged. Whether this planning lays the groundwork for its future development, the ultimate sale or exit of your business, or earlier than expected succession implementation, it ensures that you have choices when you need them. As the old saying goes, inaction breeds doubt and fear.
An important role of business advisors is to help their clients consider options available to them and evaluate which course of action will yield the best results.
Much in the same way as the Covid-19 Pandemic forced organisations to re-think the way they did business in order to survive and, in many cases, ultimately thrive, the current economic uncertainties are forcing business into a similar ‘re-think’ process.
With over 30 years’ experience in NI, five Partners and over 150 staff, BDO NI specialises in supporting businesses of all sizes and across a range of sectors in their pursuit to grow, develop and navigate challenges and opportunities.
Brian Murphy, BDO NI Managing Partner believes that future proofing your business through gaining knowledge and expertise is invaluable for the long-term strategic planning of any business. Brian specialises in BDO’s corporate advisory business, with value creation and improving business performance at the heart of his role.
“With increasing costs across the board, businesses are looking at where they can become more efficient in their operations. Maximising talent within an organisation, streamlining work processes and leveraging the use of technology can all help a business to sustain operations during challenging times and continue to be an attractive proposition for possible future investment or sale opportunities.”
“One thing we have consistently found, particularly during the challenging period of the last couple of years, is that businesses continue to evolve and adapt to their situation. Gaining a wider insight into opportunities open to you allows clients to make fully informed decisions on the future of their company and their employees.”
Family-owned businesses currently employ over 52,000 people locally, and are a vital part of the NI economy. For many smaller family-owned businesses the burden of tax compliance can weigh heavy, and many are at risk of losing out on eligible allowances and deductions due to this time intensive and, for many, confusing process.
Tax Partner, Maybeth Shaw specialises in providing tax consultancy advice with a key focus on advising family businesses.
“Regulatory reporting requirements for businesses are increasingly complex at a time when having an efficient tax strategy is non-negotiable. Structuring your business in a flexible way allows you to adapt to the changing environment seamlessly, particularly when it comes to new digital tax technologies.
Our expertise in the family-owned business sector means that we can help our clients to prioritise what is important to them, whilst ensuring that they are not missing out on key opportunities that will enable them to sustain and grow.
Qualification for capital taxes reliefs such as Business Relief from inheritance tax and Business Asset Disposal Relief from capital gains tax will also ensure you maintain tax efficiency, particularly if a sale or succession planning is your next step”.
Michael Jennings, Advisory Partner within the Corporate Finance, Business Restructuring and Forensics Department works across a range of industries, undertaking M&A work, financial due diligence alongside supporting business rescues and formal business recovery and insolvency procedures.
“For most businesses, a key challenge has been maintaining cash flow and healthy working capital. From optimising your R&D tax claims and capital allowances to improving financial controls and reporting, there are lots of things you can do to improve the financial health of your business. Reviewing alternative funding options from loans and grants to private equity will all play a part in putting your company on a more stable financial footing.”
It will be important for clients to demonstrate to potential funders / lenders that they are a good prospect to work with. Showing they are committed to diversifying, streamlining where needed and displaying good financial practices are all ways to gain this confidence.
Michael adds, “Embarking on this process while continuing to manage the business on a day-to-day basis can be extremely demanding and this is where the expertise of colleagues at BDO NI can support businesses through managing required negotiations or arranging finance for a deal.”
Aside from making your business sustainable and attractive for future investment or sale opportunities, there are wider restructuring options that can be considered with a view to adding to your business offering. These come in many forms, including a formal restructure or Merger and Acquisitions with the aim of consolidating businesses to maximise potential.
Regardless of prevailing market conditions, it is important to continue to run your business as you normally would, investing, recruiting, and adapting where you need to. Having a watchful eye on the wider landscape alongside the evolution of your business structure will ensure you are best positioned to react to any given situation.
As professional advisors its BDO’s job to make its clients’ lives’ easier through innovative, effective, and sustained delivery.