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28 April 2015

Contributing to the success of North West businesses

Melanie Christie, the Regional Director for the ICAEW in the North West is urging businesses to seek support, advice and guidance from their local members...

Melanie Christie
The ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) is a worldwide professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports over 144,000 chartered accountants.

As leaders in accountancy, finance and business, ICAEW members have the knowledge, skills and commitment to contribute to the success of individuals, organisations, communities and economies around the world.

With forecasts for private sector growth in the North West to outstrip growth across the rest of the UK, Melanie Christie, the Regional Director for the ICAEW in the North West is urging businesses to seek support, advice and guidance from their local members...

The region is a thriving financial and professional services hub and our members are an integral part of this. We have over 12,000 ICAEW members based here in the North West, working in organisations in all sectors of industry and commerce, charities, not for profit and the public sector.

ICAEW members are often the first port of call for businesses in the North West who need well-informed, considered and balanced financial and business advice. We also have a lot of members working within companies, so they play a big part in giving advice about finance options.

New and growing businesses who haven't talked to a Chartered Accountant before can find an adviser through our Business Advice Service (BAS) scheme. Business owners can get a free consultation from an ICAEW Chartered Accountant to help them explore the options available to their business and can find further details at www.businessadviceservice.com.

There are over 470 member firms registered with BAS in the region and they can provide a range of advice including how to grow a business; securing loans, capital and finance; keeping staff and creating new jobs; meeting tax and regulatory requirements; performance management; export planning and planning for long-term sustainable growth.

Drawing on the insights and experiences of our members, one of the key priorities for businesses at the moment is addressing the skills gap. Our members tell us there are serious shortages in construction, engineering, IT and transport in particular. The accountancy sector also needs to increase its intake of staff. A step change in education and business collaboration is needed to achieve the right skills to ensure the future success of the North West.

Linked quite closely to this, is a need to boost business growth across the region. With devolution of further powers to the UK regions this is more important than ever. Better access to business finance and more incentives for companies to export is vital in the North West if the region is going to help drive the "Northern Powerhouse" with innovation, skills and employment. It is extremely important that businesses in the North West can get access to the right sort of affordable finance at the right time for them to invest in expansion.

The North West Fund is a key part of a vibrant network of investment and entrepreneurialism in the region. Forecasts are for private sector growth in the North West to outstrip growth for the UK as a whole and funding is absolutely vital if this is to happen.

It can however, be an extremely confusing picture for a business owner that is looking at alternative finance options for the first time. That's why, last June the ICAEW published the Business Finance Guide (www.icaew.com/bfg) with the British Business Bank. The guide is designed to help businesses and advisers understand the different forms of equity, debt and advice they can access. To date, the guide has been sent to more than 700,000 companies across the UK.

The Business Finance Guide and ICAEW's related 'access to finance' initiatives help to keep our members informed about the funding environment. The North West Fund is a significant part of this environment in the North West as it fills some important funding gaps for the region's ambitious companies. We work closely with The Fund's various teams of fund managers, to make sure our members are aware of all the options available to

ICAEW is organising a breakfast forum in Manchester on 4th June, where Cliff Maylor, CEO at The North West Fund will speak alongside Ron Emerson, Chairman of the British Business Bank and other key finance professionals in the region. The 'Boosting Finance for Business Expansion' forum is designed to help raise awareness of alternative finance options, and is free and open to all businesses, advisers and investors.  

For further information about the 'Boosting Finance for Business Expansion' forum in Manchester on 4th June please register your interest with Melanie at: melanie.christie@icaew.com


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