What have been the biggest challenges for your business over the past year and what did finance play in addressing them?
As a fast growing SME, our biggest challenges over the last 12 months has been deciding on our investment requirements for resourcing and office space. The question has very much been on how much investment is required and the timing of the spend.
Finance has been instrumental in this decision-making process by working with the business to really understand the key commercial drivers, which in turn has informed analysis on the optimum resourcing strategy and the decision on future office space requirements.
What are the key political and economic risk/opportunities you face in the year ahead?
Gemserv works predominately with government departments and regulators on the roll out of national programmes and schemes (including Smart Metering, Green Deal). In context of this the General Election next year will be a key contributor in shaping our opportunity/risk map as well as the spend allocated to such programmes.
Which CAPEX projects will you be focusing on in 2015 and how will these be financed?
CAPEX spend next year will be very much focused on implementing a company-wide corporate system to support the growing need for integrated real time reporting requirements of the business. This spend will be financed through cash reserves.
What business-friendly policies do we want the next government to undertake to improve the environment for UK corporates?
Much is already being done in terms of lower rates of corporation tax and material incentives to encourage innovation through the availability of R&D tax credits. Another worthwhile area of focus is taxable benefits. As a consultancy, our most important asset is our people and therefore retention of talent is vital. Accordingly we aim to engender a culture of fun and a cohesive working environment through company-wide employee social events. Currently such benefits are taxable, over and above a threshold through a P11D or a PSA Agreement. Re-classifying such benefits as non-taxable will reduce the cost of providing such intrinsically value add benefits to employees.
Advice for other FDs in the coming year?
To make a real difference remain ahead of the curve by looking forward and working with the business to realise opportunities and manage risks. While compliance and control are a fundamental aspect of any FD’s role, increasingly these are seen as pre-requisites implemented through policy and automated processes.