Professional Firm Leaders from 36 Countries Meet at 2016 Alliott Group Worldwide Conference

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150 senior professionals from some of the world’s leading independent accounting and law firms gathered in London last week to attend a conference focused on the changing dynamics of the international business environment and how to improve services for clients operating in different markets. Attendees at Alliott Group’s 2016 Worldwide Conference were able to meet and exchange views with leading economists and international business advisers from the Bank of England, the Confederation of British Industry and the Department for International Trade.

International association of accounting and law firms holds Worldwide Conference in London
This year’s Worldwide Conference was our largest ever. Energy levels were very high– our members clearly have a huge appetite for developing the knowledge and professional contacts that will support the growth of their clients' business into new markets

Held this year at the Royal Horseguards hotel in London, Alliott Group’s Worldwide Conference is the international association’s flagship event in the calendar year. In addition to acquiring new knowledge about the opportunities and challenges presented by the UK and global business environment, owners at mid-market accounting and law firms were able to develop relationships with their professional counterparts around the world who provide solutions to their clients as and when their business requires professional support in different markets.

During the four day conference, authoritative speakers from the Bank of England and the Confederation of British Industry presented the latest data on the UK economy and predictions for the future, particularly in the context of the country’s decision to leave the European Union (‘Brexit’) and the resulting uncertainty.

Lai Wah Co of the Bank of England outlined the Bank’s recent monetary policy actions including reduction of the bank’s interest rate from 0.5% to 0.25% and £70 billion worth of quantitative easing through government and corporate bond purchases. Attendees learned that:

  • The UK faces a period of economic uncertainty following Brexit
  • UK investor and consumer confidence has dipped in the run up to and following the Brexit vote
  • UK inflation is set to rise
  • The Pound has plunged against the US Dollar and the Euro
  • UK GDP growth will slow, but then should start to pick up.

However, Amar Mistry of the Department for International Trade emphasised that despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit, the UK will continue to be a good place to do business. Mistry provided a number of reasons why the UK is the number one location in Europe for attracting Foreign Direct Investment:

  • Plans to make the UK the G20’s most attractive tax regime, including the reduction of corporation tax to 17% by 2020
  • A vast market that is the world’s 6th largest economy with easy access to a talented workforce
  • A favourable business environment that enables ease of set-up and operation.

Attendees were also provided with cultural awareness training from Farnham Castle Intercultural Training designed to help them to develop a ‘global mindset’ and to become local experts in advising clients on how to be more successful when extending internationally. Susanna Lyddon compared culture to an iceberg, explaining that 90% of culture is ‘below the water’ and outlining the richer cultural intricacies such as learning styles, the importance of time, relationships and language, and approaches to problem solving.

Ben Kent of Meridian West shared comprehensive research on what clients want from their professional advisers. The level of service provided to clients by the world’s six largest accounting firms was shown to be ‘patchy’ and Kent also highlighted the big firms’ perceived weaknesses in terms of delivering commercial advice and providing service consistency worldwide. According to Kent, the best opportunities for smaller firms lie in providing specialist advisory services related to tax (e.g. transfer pricing), regulation and technology which are all high demand areas. Although it was emphasised that we are entering the age of the ‘technology supported professional’, attendees were also advised by Kent not to lose sight of the huge value still placed on human interaction and judgment by clients.

During the conference, representatives from the alliance’s international tax and global mobility special interest groups held roundtable discussions on the impact of recent international tax developments on internationally focused SMEs, particularly national implementations of proposals in the OECD/G20 Base Erosion & Profit Shifting (BEPS) project that is targeting tax avoidance and that have a bearing on permanent establishment risks and transfer pricing strategies. A multidisciplinary roundtable also explored issues related to successful entry into a foreign market.

James Hickey, Alliott Group’s CEO comments: “This year’s Worldwide Conference was our largest to date in terms of the number of attendees. Energy levels were very high this year – our members clearly have a huge appetite for developing the knowledge and professional contacts that will support the growth of their clients’ business into new markets.”

About Alliott Group
Founded in 1979, and with some 170 member firms in 65 countries, Alliott Group is an award winning* international alliance of independent accounting and law firms that need deeper level of cross border resources to develop reputation, visibility and new business. Alliott Group provides services to help its member firms position themselves as the ‘go to’ firms in their local markets for businesses and private individuals with multi-market business interests.

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Giles Brake
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