Development updates: February 2014

Tina Riches quits CIOT for senior tax role at Smith & Williamson, shortage of risk specialists pushes up salaries, DFID calls on institutes to provide technical support for developing countries

CIOT technical director Tina Riches is to join Smith & Williamson as national tax partner, succeeding Richard Mannion who is retiring from the firm after a 48‑year career in taxation.

Kevin Stopps, managing partner of tax and business services and co-chief executive at Smith & Williamson, said: ‘Tina brings extensive knowledge and experience at the cutting edge of the industry, including HMRC’s new technology and major IT developments, and we look forward to working with her to prepare for the changes ahead.’

Riches will be based at the firm’s Moorgate office in London and will be responsible for communicating tax information across the firm and as a primary commentator on tax matters.

Stephen Relf, currently a tax specialist at Wolters Kluwer, will move to CIOT in March to take over as technical director.


Staff shortages stall growth, says Grant Thornton

UK business optimism has surged over the past year and it is now ranked seventh most optimistic country globally on growth prospects, ahead of the US and China, according to research from Grant Thornton.

GT’s International Business Report (IBR) shows UK

business optimism is up 74%, rising 3% since Q4 2012. Over two-thirds (69%) of businesses expect to increase revenues over the next 12 months – a 20% year-on-year increase.

Companies are also more optimistic about future profits, with 63% expecting improvements, a 13% rise. At the same time, the numbers anticipating reduced demand have dropped by 7% over the quarter to reach 24%.

The research reveals a 12% climb in research and development (R&D), 11% increase in plant and machinery and a 3% boost in new building investment expectations over the past year.

Scott Barnes, GT CEO, said: ‘The broad base of the recovery, largely driven by mid-market businesses, sets a solid foundation for growth to continue in 2014, but it remains crucial we don’t rest on our laurels at this critical juncture.’

In particular, Barnes said there was a shortage of skilled workers; one in four (23%) companies said this would be a major constraint on their business and a potential threat to growth prospects.


Careers: lack of specialists push up salaries

Financial services professionals are seeing salaries rise in specialist areas such as risk and compliance as companies become concerned about sourcing and retaining critical skills in the face of increased regulatory requirements, research by recruitment consultancy Robert Half shows.

The recruiter’s 2014 financial services salary guide found that 94% of executives believe that the management of regulatory reform is a challenge for their businesses – up 14% on 2013. Almost two thirds (61%) expect the financial workload brought about by regulatory change to increase, resulting in additional recruitment for permanent and interim regulatory professionals. One in four said the finance function is taking the lead on managing regulatory change.

According to Reed, more than half (53%) of managers report skills gaps in their organisation, compared to an average of 37% across all sectors, and 70% also said these skills gaps were having a negative impact on their bottom line, up from 66% last year.

The Reed survey also showed that job satisfaction is very high, with 84% of part-qualified professionals and 74% of fully qualified professionals feeling ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ in their current role, compared with an average of 70% across the UK.

Phil Sheridan, managing director, Robert Half UK, said: ‘Financial services businesses are realising that demand for the most highly skilled talent is outweighing supply, particularly within niche specialisms. Firms looking to attract the market’s most sought-after professionals know that financial remuneration is only one factor affecting candidates’ decisions.’


Acquisition: stateside forensic experts buy UK firm

US-based risk services company Stroz Friedberg has acquired Tyrian Partners, a global financial investigations firm based in London, in a move designed to expand its international forensic accounting services.

Tyrian Partners was set up in June 2013 by three former senior executives from risk specialists Kroll, Richard Abbey, Brian Stapleton and Brendan Hawthorne. They will now become joint managing directors at Stroz Friedberg. Abbey, previously global head of financial investigations for Kroll, will lead the company’s forensic accounting practice globally.

Tyrian’s 12 employees, who include accountants with Big Four experience, data analytic experts and investigators with specialist financial training, will move into Stroz’s London office.

‘Stroz Friedberg is a leading player. Combining the firm’s multi-disciplined investigation talent, especially in digital forensics and cyber security, with Tyrian’s forensic accounting and financial expertise provides a clear advantage for our clients,’ said Abbey. ‘It’s a great opportunity to innovate financial investigations methods across a global platform.’


DFID calls on accountants to support financial management in developing world

International development secretary Justine Greening (pictured) has announced plans to encourage the accounting institutes to help developing countries improve their financial management.

Accountants working for the ICAEW and CIPFA will join the UK’s Investment Facility for Utilising Specialist Expertise (IFUSE). The programme, funded by the Department for International Developments (DFID), will provide developing countries with access to UK expertise to help them create the infrastructure and environment needed for growth.

ICAEW and CIPFA will be the first chartered accountancy bodies to join the network. On request from individual countries like Yemen or Somalia, their staff will be deployed on short-term assignments to train officials and assist with developing and implementing policies to

improve transparency, public financial management and financial accountability.

Greening said: ‘If we are going to end aid dependency through jobs, that means governments and businesses having access to good quality people and standards to create the right environment for investment.’

Set up in 2012, IFUSE currently works with 14 UK government departments to deliver short-term, targeted expertise on issues identified by partners in-country. For example, HMRC has sent officials to support the Tanzanian Revenue Authority to improve tax collection provision.

CIPFA currently works to improve financial management in eight DFID focus countries, including Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Nigeria.

ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza said: ‘IFUSE is an opportunity for our profession to give some practical and expert advice and guidance on improving financial skills and standards in business and the public sector.’


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