Category Archives: RSM Regions

EBA celebrates manufacturing in Europe

This is the first in a series of articles leading up to the European Business Awards Gala Event on 27 May 2014. RSM is the lead sponsor of the European Business Awards, click here for more information on the programme.


This year’s European Business Awards will not only be a celebration of success, but also of variety, as the National Champions and Ruban d’Honneur recipient list is composed of 130 companies from over 20 different sectors across the business spectrum. Upon viewing the list of hopefuls there are a number of sectors which stand out: there are 17 technology companies, ten software firms and ten businesses in the environmental sector. However, by far the most prominent sector across Europe is manufacturing, with 23 businesses making it to the final.

This ties in with the Industrial Structure Report, released by the European Commission in February this year, which highlighted the significance of the manufacturing sector within the European Union. The report noted that manufacturing has a hugely important role in both the recovery and the growth of economies across Europe. Nevertheless, after analysing the performance of EU industrial and service sectors, it concluded:

“Manufacturing sectors have been hit more severely by the crisis than services: manufacturing, as a proportion of economic output, has declined significantly.”

The manufacturing sector is currently going through a very difficult period and the European Business Awards gives us the opportunity to celebrate the manufacturing companies that have bucked the trend of decline across the continent.

Conversely, the same EU report praised the growth of pharmaceuticals within the manufacturing sector, saying:

“The pharmaceuticals sector has experienced sustained growth since the start of the financial crisis.”

In fact, the pharmaceuticals sector is the only EU manufacturing sector that has increased its share of output since 2000. With regards to the European Business Awards, only five of the aforementioned 23 manufacturing companies are pharmaceutical, highlighting the range of businesses that exist in the competition, even within each sector.

With six manufacturing companies from the UK and Greece alone, some countries are pushing the sector forwards more than others. We can use the European Business Awards to share best practises and learn from those who have accomplished great things in trying times. The gala ceremony in Athens at the end of May will not only be a celebration of success and variety, but it will also highlight and recognise those who have experienced growth in difficult circumstances.

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Filed under Economy, Europe, European Business Awards

Business confidence in the Middle East and Africa trailing Europe

Can there be anywhere in the world less confident about its business prospects than Europe right now? Most people would answer that question with an emphatic ‘no’. But, during our recent annual conference in London, we polled the 280 delegates – from all corners of the globe – and got some contrary and interesting views.

36% of RSM members in Europe categorised business confidence in their respective countries as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Surprisingly, both Africa and the Middle East scored lower than Europe on business confidence, despite many countries in those regions experiencing relatively high levels of economic growth. Just 25% and 22% of accounting professionals respectively in those regions rated business confidence as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

Needless to say, business confidence is absolutely critical. If businesses do not feel optimistic, they will be reluctant to invest. As we all know, increased capital spending by private businesses will be needed to kick-start growth, but many organisations across Europe are still in cost-cutting mode.

Contrast this with Africa, where many economies are growing strongly. Confidence is relative of course, so it’s entirely possible to be less bullish despite a more favourable economic reality. The fortunes of African economies are closely tied to demand from the U.S., Europe and China, but with demand muted, and commodity prices falling, many African economies are facing growing headwinds.

Within Europe the picture is polarised. Whilst 62% of delegates from RSM Germany rated confidence as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, business confidence from UK delegates is significantly below the European average, with only the Spanish more pessimistic about their economic prospects among major European economies. Just 9% of RSM delegates from the UK ranked business confidence as either ‘good’ or ‘very good’, whereas RSM members from Spain are the most pessimistic among the five major European economies, with none rating business confidence as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

70% of RSM members in the Americas and 66% in Asia/Asia Pacific rated business confidence as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. It’s a little surprising to see confidence in the Americas higher than Asia, but then Americans are known for their optimism, and with the prospect of energy self-sufficiency in the U.S. a growing possibility, there is good reason for feeling positive. Energy is one of the largest input costs for manufacturing businesses, so the shale gas boom could provide a much-needed competitive boost to U.S. industry.

Looking forward to 2013, 42% of RSM members in Europe think business confidence will decline over the next 12 months. Only African RSM members are less optimistic: just 25% thought confidence would improve, compared to 36% of Europeans.

RSM members have their fingers directly on the pulse of businesses in their respective countries, so this survey provides a fascinating overview of economic vitality. 2012 has been a tough year for the global economy, but there is reason to hope that the prognosis for 2013 will be a little better.

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Filed under Africa, Asia Pacific, Business confidence, Economy, Europe, General, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, North America

One day. One focus. One RSM.

Getting the team together to share and celebrate growth and success is certainly difficult, especially when that team encompasses 32,500 people across 700 offices worldwide.

However, on 20 September 2012, we will see our network of staff across 90 countries celebrate our shared vision of “Connected for Success”.

RSM World Day, as we are calling it, is a celebration of our shared values as a global community – unified in putting clients first and in building close personal relationships and understanding, both with clients and between our colleagues across RSM.

Each member firm will celebrate in their own way, with events and activities to share knowledge and increase awareness of our strengths and successes as a global network of professionals. Indeed I have been thrilled to see such a wide variety of planned internal and external communications campaigns, including advertising in local and international media, social and charity as well as business events, competitions and direct marketing activity.

Since the “Connected for Success” campaign was launched in early 2012, RSM has recorded a 35% increase in the level of referred work between international offices. The statistics reveal a significant increase in the number of both new and existing clients choosing RSM to serve them across international markets, with that support provided across more than two geographic territories.

We know our brand promise has to deliver in real business terms, and to achieve this, every employee has to understand their fundamental role in the bigger picture. With this in mind, the aim of RSM World Day is to share knowledge and understanding of what has made, and is continuing to make us successful. And above all, to champion our belief and determination that it is through our close personal relationships that we will realise our collective global ambitions. “Connected for Success” – Globally – with our clients – with each other.

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Filed under People, RSM Regions

Africa marches forward: Could it be on the verge development breakthrough?

Following the incredible events of the Arab Spring, a wave of change continues to sweep through Africa. Reading this article in the Wall Street Journal I was reminded of how dynamic the socio-political situation is across this continent.

Africa is an important growth area for RSM and our clients globally.

As a network our strategy is to have a firm foundation in Africa’s key markets, continually building our network to provide our international clients with support for their businesses as they expand across Africa. At the same time, we are seeking to foster our African clients’ organic growth in Europe, China, India and the US.

The opportunity is immense. Africa has the youngest population in the world, with almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24. According to the African Economic Outlook this number will double by 2045, putting huge demands on the economy to keep up and create jobs.

The good news is that African economies continue to grow across the continent, at 4.5% this year, with even higher rates predicted for next year.

The economic growth story is compelling. Seven of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, mainly those with a wealth of natural resources. It is widely expected that Nigeria will overtake South Africa as the leading African economy during the next 5-10 years.

African governments are also relaxing the restrictions on foreign investment to increase the development of infrastructure, education, telecommunications and the agricultural sector. Roads are being built, airports upgraded, hotels are springing up everywhere and internet connectivity is burgeoning. Mobile commerce is hastening the growth of SMEs as banking services become accessible to everyone with a mobile telephone. These improvements create wealth and benefits for entire populations.

This economic growth is underpinned by a decade of comparative peace and political stability. Democratic reforms have slowly but surely given groups who previously would have resorted to armed conflict political representation. There are still protests, unrest and instability, but the young population is organised and agitating for political liberalisation, competition, and electoral representation. This year alone will see 23 democratic, multi-party elections.

Africa is undergoing a truly remarkable transformation. If the right policies are put in place to capitalize on the continents abundant human capital and natural resources, Africa could be on the verge of a development breakthrough with all the ingredients for a future economic powerhouse. RSM will be there, building our presence, assisting businesses to invest and African businesses to expand. It’s going to be a fascinating and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

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Filed under Africa, In the news

China’s Carbon Trading Experiment is good news for the Cleantech industry (and the planet)

The recent report “China’s Carbon Emission Trading: an Experiment to Watch” by the Stockholm Environment Institute provides a positive analysis of China’s pilot for its national-level carbon trading programme.

The biggest carbon producer in the world is the US, followed by China. Getting both of these countries to embrace carbon trading is a tipping point, which will spur huge global investment in green and cleantech industries.

For years China has sat (as has the USA) on the side-lines of the global climate debate. Not for much longer.

According to the report, in announcing the formation of pilot carbon trading programmes China is demonstrating its commitment to a long-term strategy for carbon and energy “intensity” reduction. One of the biggest problems in trying to stem pollution is funding the replacement technologies. A national scheme will reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of efforts to reach carbon and energy intensity goals, with an end game to maintain energy security and reduce domestic vulnerability to the effects of global warming.

The future aim is that the creation of a functional national carbon market in China will – when linked with other major trading schemes such as in the EU – eventually lead to the creation of a global market and price for carbon. The US will have to follow suit and the influx of investment into cleantech will be transformational.

This pilot must succeed. There are always hurdles along the way, but as the report summarises, “China’s determination has served it remarkably well in many other ways in the past decades. That same ‘crossing the river by feeling the stones’ spirit could well enable China to build a unique innovative carbon market that effectively curbs its now soaring emissions.”

Ian Duffy, Head of RSM’s Cleantech and Renewable Energy Group added: “The Chinese initiative is very welcome and the pricing of carbon production worldwide is critical to creating and maintaining a permanent momentum away from fossil fuels and towards renewable and carbon neutral fuels. In the current economic climate, this move shows the importance and priority of shaping future energy generation and consumption.”

This will be fascinating to follow – we’ll be watching closely over the coming years.

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Filed under China, Cleantech, Environment

Austerity alone will not lead growth

European governments are facing a clamour of calls to ditch austerity measures and start spending.

The most rational of these calls are from those who wish to find a middle ground, understanding that is very hard to nurture economic growth without some form of stimulus.

It is very rare for an economy to simply change gear without a significant catalyst – be it the growth in a particular industry, political reform, or a significant innovation which a country is in a unique position to capitalise on. My own perspective is that, outside of pure chance, growth tends to follow intelligent strategic investment.

A fascinating comment piece in the Financial Times by Professors Marcus Miller and Robert Skidelsky of Warwick University questions the validity of austerity, and presents a very clear and concise case for the adoption of pragmatic growth measures as a solution to the current economic woes.

Devising ways to reduce debt without austerity is imperative. Assessing the current turmoil and drawing parallels with the 1930’s, they argue that sovereign debts must be managed in ways that do not destroy the economy or the political centre ground – as is the threat from a rigid austerity programme

According to Miller and Skidelsky, growth will only be achieved through increased project spending, restructuring of debts and shifting debt onto future generations. This basic foundation will create breathing space in which countries can climb out of the current morass.

I certainly appreciate that it is important that austerity measures be adopted at the early stages of a debt crisis – in the most recent crisis, it was important to show bond markets that tackling the debt mountain was a priority. With these initial measures in place (and as growth slides backwards and tax receipts fall), the question should be not if, but when, we begin adopting growth measures in earnest.

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Filed under Economy, Effective business, Europe

Resource rich Australia grapples with a two speed economy

Last month GE reported a 26% rise in revenue from Australia. The resource
rich nation exceeded China revenue by US$100 million, and the company
expects Australia will surpass China again in 2012. According to the Wall
Street Journal
GE expects that the price of minerals will remain strong and support Australia’s burgeoning mining sector.

For GE, this presents an immense growth opportunity fuelled by sales of
industrial equipment to nations that produce healthy amounts of oil, gas
and iron ore.

Alongside Australia, GE CEO Geoff Immelt pointed at Canada, Peru and
Mongolia as other targets for the firm. He noted that these nations are
more or less geographically equal in size to China, but are “not as hard”
to do business in. The challenge for these countries is to develop
economies which holistically benefit from a boom in one sector.

Much is being made of Australia’s “two speed economy”. Its fully-fledged
mining boom is pushing the resources sector far ahead of the rest of the
economy, which is flagging under the weight of an increased trade deficit.
The strong Australian dollar is the culprit for these woes.

Then again, ask any European finance minister to consider a job swap, and I
am sure you’ll get no complaints about taking on the role in Australia –
low unemployment, low inflation and low interest rates are not to be
scoffed at.

There is some heavy work going on in Australia to align the economy. Budget
cuts were unveiled last week and the Government announced they are aiming
at going from deficit to a surplus of AUS$1.5 billion for 2012-2012.

There are, of course, a couple of issues GE and other companies in a
similar position need to be mindful of.

The incoming Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MMRT) is a tax levied on 30% of
the “super profits” from the mining of iron ore and coal in Australia. The
tax kicks in at profits of $75 million and while 320 companies could
potentially be affected, it will certainly raise the cost of doing business
with these firms. The Government expects the tax will raise around AU

Furthermore, the labour market is very tight and companies looking to work
within the sector will be competing for experienced staff. This will cause
further wage inflation and a tighter market than already exists.

The challenges and problems are there, but in looking at the global
economy, I would rather be a finance minister wrestling with sustainability
issues rather than existential issues. A two speed economy is certainly
preferential when your only other option is a one speed economy heading

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Filed under Australia, Economy, RSM Regions, Tax