Cheltenham defies concerns about waning business confidence
In partnership with Investec Wealth & Investment and lawyers Harrison Clark Rickerbys, BCMS held a highly successful evening event in Cheltenham on 11 October. The event featured a panel of specialists: Jonathan Dunn from BCMS; Rebecca Leask from Harrison Clark Rickerbys; Anthony Flynn from Investec Wealth & Investment and two entrepreneurs, Deborah Richards and Andrew Sesemann, who have successfully sold business themselves. The five were able to impart valuable knowledge and share their own experiences regarding business succession and exit strategies.
The event saw BCMS trial a more interactive element to proceedings: in order to try and better understand the needs and drivers of local businesses, all attendees were invited to vote on a number of questions at relevant points throughout the evening.
Business confidence is high in the Cheltenham area
One of the most encouraging findings from the evening was the overriding sense of business confidence from within the room. The uncertainty created by the result of the EU Referendum vote coupled with concerns about the upcoming US election have done little to destabilise the positivity of businesses within the Cheltenham area, with just one in five of those in the room feeling “unconfident” about growth in the UK economy over the next 12 months.
Brexit: it’s not all bad
Business confidence may well be elevated due to business owners seeing strong trading in the first few months following the EU referendum: with a score of “3” being neutral, a balance of 3.31 claimed their business was performing better than expected post-referendum vote. The second most agreed-with statement was owners seeing a lot of businesses being bought or sold within their own sector which reflects the pick-up BCMS has noted recently in transactional volume.
However, despite this positivity, business owners can clearly not afford to be complacent: there is still some concern about what a “post-Brexit” future has in store for their business, and some uncertainty about the economy looks set to continue for the medium term.
Nevertheless, we were encouraged by the positivity of businesses within the room regarding their prospects for growth.
A desire for a lifestyle change is fuelling business succession decision making
Long-term tracking of BCMS client data indicates that a desire for a change in lifestyle is behind the primary reason for implementing a business succession strategy, fuelling 26% of transactions. In this area, a change in lifestyle is an even greater incentive, with 38% of attendees indicating this as their main motive for selling – something our two guest panellists, Deborah Richards and Andrew Sesemann, also backed up. As with BCMS national data, retirement was also ranked highly, with 19% selecting this as their primary reason for business succession.
Andrew also highlighted how his decision to sell his business was expedited due to corporate activity within his sector, meaning desirability for his business would be very high at the time he went to market. Knowing it was the “right time” was also something which most resonated with one in five people looking towards business succession.
We will be conducting similar surveys at our other events throughout the UK in order to help us understand the thoughts and concerns of business owners in different regions throughout the country. From our contact with clients, the positivity of owners within the Cheltenham area does appear to be mirrored nationwide; something which we believe will hold true in our future surveys.