Editor's note

Issue 623  July 2021

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Travel restrictions to lift spirits shortly

For many economies, the month of July will see a welcome return to something resembling normal economic activity.

Most of Europe and the US have lifted the more severe restrictions necessitated as a response to dealing with the pandemic. The UK government has announced its intention to fully open the economy on 19 July 2021, while the Biden Administration is pursuing a $715bn infrastructure bill, expected to get full Congressional approval in September, to help kick-start the post-pandemic economic push.

This is in stark contrast to the struggles of some of the East Asian manufacturing powerhouses, where slow vaccination programmes combined with disruption to supply chains have significantly slowed recovery.

The IHS Markit purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs) give a good indication of the broad longer-term strength of a given economy’s manufacturing strength and prospects by incorporating data on new orders, export enquiries, employment, inventory, pricing and sentiment; a score above 50 shows growth and below 50 signals shrinkage.

From May to June, the US PMI held steady at 62.1, the UK’s dipped slightly from 65.6 to 63.9 whilst the eurozone grew from 63.1 to 63.4; all three regions showing signs of significant, heated activity. Contrast that with China and Japan with PMIs of 51.3 and 52.4 respectively, indicating moderate growth, and the ASEAN bloc with a collective PMI of 49, indicative of shrinkage. Demand is clearly not the issue, so the likely culprits for the East Asian economies are the rising costs of inputs and supply chain difficulties caused by the continuing difficulties in dealing with the pandemic.

For the accountancy industry, especially in terms of advisory services, these statistics present some great opportunities across the world. The demand for help with reorienting business models and supply chain structures to cope with recurring disruptions, combined with the need to understand and take advantage of support initiatives being offered in almost every global jurisdiction, should result in a busy summer for the industry.

At a time of the year when many industry professionals would be swapping their desks for beach loungers – not that there are many travel options at the moment – much of the industry will be trying to chart a course to their own recovery by helping their clients take advantage of the blistering growth in economic activity this summer.

In this issue, read my interview with Moneypenny group CEO Joanna Swash about leading a company in growth that is providing outsourced services to the accountancy and other financial services sector. These include overflow call-handling support from eight offices to ensure that no business is ever lost, and directed to rightful experts. Another outsourced service is provided by Moneypenny’s chatbot assistants, which are poised to take the retail world by storm. 

Randy Johnston of K2 Enterprises guides readers on the technology trends to follow, and Insight101 founder Philippa Haynes directs us to grow good company culture as a way to incentivise and retain staff. Andrew Collier, director of quality and professional standards at Kreston International, comments on the impact of ISQM1 and ISQM 2, and there are ranking reports and tables covering India and Australia, and further tables for Japan, New Zealand and Singapore.

For all those who may be able to travel soon for a touring break this summer, to meet loved ones and for business development, I do wish you all the best.