A ‘Loch Ness Monster-shaped’ recovery is predicted

Business chiefs and leading futurologist meet to examine region’s economic prospects and to mark the release of the Central South Report 2010 – the third annual analysis of the region’s top 150 companies

Over 100 of the region’s top business leaders met at a dinner last week to take a dramatic ‘trip to the future’ and discuss the region’s economic prospects. The dinner, to celebrate the third Central South Report from business advisors and accountants BDO LLP in Southampton, was held at New Place, a Grade 1 listed manor house near the market town of Wickham. The evening’s keynote speaker was Ian Pearson, one of the UK’s leading futurologists who tracks and predicts global developments across a wide range of technology, business, society, politics and environment. BT’s full time futurologist from 1991-2007, Pearson said: “85 per cent of my predictions ten years ago were accurate, so it’s highly likely that tonight’s information can help you enable your business to meet the challenges of the future.” Pearson urged the audience to forget immigration as an issue, and instead to start focusing on the brain-drain that re-immigration and other factors will cause. “People who moved to the UK from, say India and China to work as computer programmers, doctors and so on, are now going back to their country of origin. And our brightest graduates will in future be saying, ‘why would I want to stay in the UK when I could go and work in Brazil, Russia, India or China where there are great opportunities and real money to be made?’” Pearson predicts ‘a Loch Ness monster-shaped’ recovery, with one of the future dips being caused by the pension industry’s failure to factor in a massive increase in life expectancy. “By 2015, life expectancy will increase by more than one year each year” he said. One of the future rises is predicted to come from yet more innovative and far reaching technological developments in areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, which will fuel 2.5-3 per cent economic growth. “One of the keys to start tapping into this growth is to get consumer confidence and spending back as soon as possible. If we keep our hands on our wallets, nothing will get better. We must have a positive and vibrant vision for the future.” In his introduction to the event, Paul Lester, Chairman of the VT Group said: “Whilst it will be extremely tough in the three-to-four years ahead, I believe we will be in a much better shape when we come together at this dinner again in 12 months’ time.” Lester was speaking in his role as Chairman of BDO’S Central South Report which consolidates accounts of the region’s top 150 companies to provide a barometer of the economic climate for the region. Kim Hayward, Lead Partner, BDO in Southampton concurred, saying: “Last year’s report, which considered the region’s accounts for 2008/9, showed the early signs of downturn. This year’s, which is for 2009/10, shows that whilst profits and net assets are down, turnover is going up. Some of the key issues companies were facing during that period, and continue to do so, were funding, gearing, employment and risk management.” This week also sees the release of the first in a series of further publications by BDO called Transitions, which set out a definitive view of the trends that will shape the business world for the next decade. The first Transitions report is entitled The New Economic World Order which looks at the potentially far reaching impact of the emerging BRIC economies and urges Government support for an export-led recovery. The reports have been formed working with an expert panel of some of the most inspirational and influential members of the business and academic community, including the night’s speaker, Ian Pearson. Future Transitions reports are to be released over the coming months and will cover: • Transition to new forms of capitalism • Transition to a new regulatory environment • Transition to sustainable development • Transition to the new consumer • Transition to a new corporate culture The Central South Report can be found at www.bdo.co.uk/centralsouthreport and the Transitions Report can be downloaded at www.bdo.co.uk.

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