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Grant Thornton's top tips to help Cambridge businesses stay ahead of the game in 2018

Hazel Platt, partner at Grant Thorntons Cambridge office
Hazel Platt, partner at Grant Thorntons Cambridge office

Grant Thornton picks five key areas for business success in 2018.

Resilience and the willingness to adapt will be key to achieving future success for Cambridgeshire businesses in 2018, say financial and business advisers Grant Thornton.

Hazel Platt, partner at the firm’s Cambridge office, says 2017 was a year of major changes and she expects this to continue into the new year.

She has picked out five key areas to help the county’s companies stay ahead of the game over the coming 12 months.

Gender pay gap reporting: As part of government’s commitment to closing this gap, new regulations require all organisations with 250 employees or more to publish gender pay gap data by April 4.

Most qualifying employers still haven’t filed their figures and, while there are no penalties for failing to comply, organisations who do not accurately publish their information are at risk of reputational damage and being publicly ‘named and shamed’.

General data protection regulation (GDPR): From May 25, all organisations handling personal data on individuals in the UK or EU need to meet the new GDPR, introduced to give people greater control over their personal data and how it is used.

The legislation aims to make organisations more accountable for all aspects of data protection. Businesses that fail to comply could face a hefty fine.

Deal or no deal: With the final terms under which Britain will exit the EU still unclear, challenges and opportunities will inevitably arise, so it’s more important than ever for firms to plan for likely scenarios.

Businesses with the right foundations in place and flexibility to adapt will come out as the clear winners.

Interest rates and inflation: Last month saw the first interest rate rise for more than a decade, with further small increases expected next year to help bring inflation back down to its 2 per cent target.

Although borrowing would become more expensive, interest rates are expected to remain low, encouraging businesses and consumers to borrow and spend more.

Social mobility: 2018 looks set to become the ‘Year of Social Mobility’ and more must be done to ensure everyone has access to the same opportunities and support, regardless of background.

Employers have a crucial role to play and, by looking at how recruitment, operational and community activities can be adapted, they can help achieve this vision.

Investing in social mobility enables businesses to access an otherwise hidden pool of talent and diverse perspectives so they can better meet their clients’ demands.

Earlier this year, Grant Thornton was recognised as the number one employer in the UK for its action to improve social mobility in the workplace.

Hazel concludes: “Despite a number of clear challenges looming on the horizon, the main message we are hearing from local businesses is one of positivity.

“There is a feeling that although there is much which is outside their immediate control, the majority are looking at what they can do to place themselves in the best position.

“This resilience and willingness to adapt will be key to achieving future success.”

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