Professional services: Leading the recovery

Professional services will play a key role in Lancashire’s economic recovery, according to key players in the sector who are now gearing up for the task.

The range of expertise and support available to businesses as they look to emerge from the coronavirus crisis is impressive.

More than 40,000 people are employed in the sector in the county. They work for accountants, law firms, financial advisors and insurance brokers, specialist property-related consultancies and recruitment agencies and business process outsourcing organisations. Each will have their part to play in the recovery.

Ian Liddle, partner at law firm Farleys, says: “We cannot yet know the full long-term impact Covid-19 will have on the economy, but what is clear is that the professional services sector in Lancashire will be critical to keeping the economy going through this crisis, and essential to supporting the recovery afterwards.”

He adds: The professional services sector plays a key role in the Lancashire economy, not only as a vital economic asset in terms of tax revenue and employment, but it also makes a real difference to people in their daily lives, helping them save for the future, invest in businesses and protect and manage risk.”

Relationships will be vital in the recovery process, says Graham Gordon, managing partner at Preston-headquartered accountants MHA Moore and Smalley.

He says: “A general trend happening across the professional services sector is more accountants having a closer relationship and acting as a trusted business adviser to clients, including being involved in more strategic business discussions.

A strong professional services sector will help business adapt to the changes both in the short and longer term

“Through coronavirus especially, our clients have appreciated our proactive approach to help and guide them through the challenges they are facing.”

And he adds: “Coronavirus will challenge North West businesses in a way nobody could foresee but those business that can come out leaner and positioned to deliver their offering in an attractive way will do well in the future.”

Shru Morris, chief executive of law firm Napthens, believes the professional services sector in the county can work together to support businesses through “a successful transition” out of the crisis.

She says: “There are many great businesses in Lancashire working hard to get through the current crisis and as a professional services business with offices across the area, we see collaboration as key to getting the county back on its feet.

“As a firm, we’ve focused on being responsive, practical and supportive for our clients to help them get through this rapidly changing landscape.”

Michael Barker, partner at Preston-based accountants and business advisers WNJ, is also a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ Lancashire and Cumbria panel.

He says: “One of the key skills any business adviser must develop is the ability to understand the environment which an entity operates.

“There has never been a time when a single factor has changed the environment in so many ways in such a short period of time.

“Understanding these issues and having the foresight into the future environment, therefore, has never been so important.

“A strong professional services sector will then help business adapt to the changes both in the short and longer term.”

Stacey Turner, managing partner at CG Professional, says that companies are already tapping into that need for “additional support”.

The Chorley law firm is now actively recruiting more staff and she adds: “We’re able to attract the right calibre of staff for those positions in what seems to be a very active recruitment market in the legal sector.”

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