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Leap Into the Future: Reflections on the Past and Predictions for the Next Leap Year

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A Leap Year is associated with long-held superstitions ranging from the ominous to the bizarre. However, as today is 29th February, we thought it a good opportunity for Managing Partner, Paul Maberly to reflect on the last four years and Ross Lane, Audit and Business Advisory Partner to look forward to what the next four might bring.

Paul Maberly said, “Over the last four years, we have expanded as a firm taking on more clients and team members than ever before. We have broadened our offerings to our clients to create a far more comprehensive approach to cover every aspect of their financial needs to help them better plan for the future. The most impactful event was of course, the global pandemic which shook the world, throwing most of us into restrictive lockdowns which completely changed the way we work. As a firm, this could have been catastrophic for us as the critical success factor for our business is our ability to get to know our clients on a personal basis to better serve their needs and also the way in which we work across our four locations to share our collective skills and knowledge.

However, we embraced remote working and managed to perform at the same high level for our clients, making good use of TEAMS and Zoom for meetings. We all learned to utilise the new technology to ensure that we and our clients benefited from it, and this has filtered into the way in which we work now in terms of hybrid working, giving colleagues greater independence to balance our time in the office with working from home to ensure a better home/work balance to manage family commitments and emergencies when needed. We have also been able to match the approach of our clients – some of whom have their teams entirely working from home, others physically in the office and everything in between. This requires careful planning to ensure that we remain available, whether it be face to face or via virtual connections. Ironically, the pandemic has brought us together as a firm with members working with each other across the four locations more than ever before through the use of video calling when travelling has been difficult.

He continues: “We have also come a long way in terms of our sustainability goals. Working from home more has meant that colleagues spend less time commuting by car and air, we have decreased the amount of paper we use, reduced our postage costs significantly and our IT strategy focusses on the use of virtual servers and cloud-based technology to reduce power usage. We have mentioned the work/life balance already, but the last four years have probably brought about the most significant change in the way we look after each other. The last four years have fostered an atmosphere of mutual trust and independent working to achieve our goals as a firm and as individuals. Within this environment, we have placed a greater emphasis on mental health and managing our personal commitments outside of work. We now have designated ‘Wellbeing Champions’ across the four offices who organise regular meetings and events such as lunchtime walks, as well as being there for anyone who needs to talk about something that is worrying them.”

Thinking about the next four years, Ross Lane said, “Whilst the challenges of the past four years are well documented and as Paul has set out, we have all come so far, the future is somewhat more difficult to predict accurately. The pace of change witnessed over the ‘COVID years’ shows no sign of slowing – in fact it’s quite the opposite. I don’t buy into the idea that the robots will take over the world, but it would be careless to assume that we are not about to see (or indeed are seeing), a digital revolution. But, before we get too carried away, what can we reasonably expect from the next four years until the next leap year arrives…?

The future looks bright for us as a firm. We are now supporting businesses and individuals in more ways than ever – helping them to achieve their goals and plan for the future with totally bespoke and holistic services that go above and beyond ensuring compliance. We help our clients with strategic planning, supporting them in developing long-term plans to address their challenges and seize their opportunities.

With the now-present and rapid development of AI, we are committed to continue to advance our virtual finance offerings and develop our cloud-based solutions to help more businesses than ever thrive. We also look forward to continuing to work with businesses within the technology sector – which is such an exciting area of growth.

As a firm, we are reducing our carbon footprint, with the aim of becoming carbon neutral in the near future. We also want to build on our positive working environment – to continue to work in a hybrid way, promote respect and inclusivity and for our working environment to really reflect our core values and aims both as a firm and as individuals. I feel that this is the most important area of focus.

Whilst technology is a pre-requisite which enables our people to deliver our services to our clients, the human touch cannot be replaced. We need to support our people in their training and development, helping them to thrive, something which was very difficult to achieve in a remote environment. This was particularly tough for those who joined the firm during lockdown and had to work extremely hard to get to know their teams. Now that we are all back together, we need to respect the work/life balance and flexibility that was created during lockdown, but also to ensure that our people get together in person, learn from each other and share and resolve their problems together. I feel that this is critical to the success of not just our firm, but for all businesses who want to be successful.

As for my predictions as we look forward to the next leap year, businesses can brace themselves for a host of opportunities and challenges. Here are some predictions for the next four years and the potential impact they might have on businesses:

  1. Technological advancements: We will witness ever-accelerating technological advancements, with further breakthroughs in AI, automation, and data analytics. Businesses that embrace these innovations can enhance efficiency, streamline processes, and gain a competitive edge. Many of those that do not embrace this change are at a much higher risk of failure.
  2. Sustainability focus, health and wellbeing initiatives – All businesses require happy, motivated and developing people. Wellbeing will continue to be ‘a must’ and the next generation of people will demand flexibility, opportunity and exposure to the latest technology. This generation are natives to technology and are unlikely to want to work in an environment that does not adapt to change. The ‘contract’ between employer and employee will evolve. Competitive salaries and benefits will be expected but will become just one of the hygiene factors of a happy relationship; being proud of the company or business they work for will become increasingly important to people. This includes the role that the business plays in the wider society, not just in pursuit of profits; doing some good for those around us will be just as important as financial returns.
  3. Cybersecurity investments: Technology is both a blessing and a potential curse. The pace of change and increased use of technology in all walks of life expose us all to negative forces which can be used for fraudulent gain via the very same technology that can do such good. With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats, businesses will need to invest heavily in cybersecurity measures. Protecting sensitive data and ensuring the resilience of digital infrastructure will be paramount to maintaining trust and avoiding potential breaches. But this goes beyond simply protecting data for sensitivity and privacy reasons. Cyber criminals are increasingly holding businesses to ransom if they can obtain customer and client data that has been poorly secured. Hence, the financial and, more importantly, reputational costs are significant if these risks are not addressed.
  4. Global economic shifts: The next four years are likely to see continued shifts in the global economic landscape. I am not going to dare to predict what they might be given recent global events, but one thing we know for sure is that there will be a general election in the UK.  This brings political and economic uncertainty whatever the result, so businesses should stay vigilant and be ready to adapt and take advantage of changing market conditions.

As businesses prepare for the next Leap Year; flexibility, adaptability, and a proactive approach to emerging trends will be key to navigating the dynamic landscape and seizing opportunities for success.

So, what can we expect? Will all of the points raised in this article come true?  Probably not all, but definitely some. Whatever happens, it promises to be an interesting, challenging and exciting time for all business owners and their people.”

Contact Us

If you would like to discuss your future plans for your business, please feel free to speak to either Paul Maberly or Ross Lane. They can provide valuable insights and guidance to help you navigate the path towards success.

Some leap year fun facts:

  • Anthony, a small town in Texas, is the self-proclaimed Leap Year Capital of the world and hosts a fair every four years to celebrate the 29th of February and the people born on this date…
  • Women are expected to propose to men rather than the other way round…however, it is deemed bad luck not to accept!
  • People born on 29 February are called ‘Leaplings’ or ‘Leapers’.


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