Sarah Kavanagh, Associate with Barden’s Financial Service practice, recently attended the first event of the AIBs Business Leaders Live series for 2022.
The event included a great discussion by some leading professionals in business across Ireland and delivered some excellent insights into the key business trends for the year ahead. Here Sarah shares her key takeaways from the event…
First up Tom Standage, Deputy Editor & Head of Digital Strategy at The Economist and Editor of The World Ahead, spoke about the economy and highlighted how some common themes are affecting the economy, globally, internationally and in Ireland today, including:
- The future of how we work is emerging. The pre-pandemic world is gone and the next year will continue to look like it has over the past 2 years…unpredictable! Businesses may see that there is a disparity in what employers and employees want.
- The Pandemic has forced entire industries to learn to adapt and it has worked well. Many companies are seeing an increase in productivity as the way we work has changed throughout the pandemic. Hybrid working will become common place across industries however, it won’t work for all and it must be remembered that only 50% of work force can work at home.
- A change in the recruitment market is also a key business trend in 2022. Being able to hire people remotely is improving work life balance. Companies who don’t adapt to this new way of doing business with employees are going to lose out. ‘The great resignation’, a term coined in the US, will dominate as record numbers are leaving their roles with better offers elsewhere. It is a candidate market right now.
Tom continued by discussing how Brexit & greater geopolitical uncertainty will play a key role in 2022. Brexit is impacting supply of a wide range of goods and services, and in particular is having a major impact on supply to business and therefore consumers.
We are very reliant on supply chains – 90% of the things around you use were on a container ship at some point!
Cathy Bryce, Managing Director, AIB Capital Markets joined the discussion to say that even with these obstacles, Ireland bounced back in the second half of 2021, which is such a positive place to be starting from. Companies need optionality, the more options within the supply chain for companies the better. Brexit has helped Ireland realise that we needed more supplier options, so opportunity exists there.
In 18 of 27 EU members, businesses are more trusted and seen as more reliable than governments. CEOs are seen as more trustworthy and are preferred as decision makers to politicians. This is somewhat of a double-edged sword for businesses. Consumers are expecting them to speak out on political issues and have political opinions, Coinbase, Zara and Intel have experienced this in recent years. The owner of Coinbase didn’t speak out on BLM and was publicly shamed for this. He said he stands by BLM but that it wasn’t relevant to his company to have a public opinion as his company is Crypto currency, a sentiment that didn’t go down well with the public.
Remote working – will it work?
- The consensus across the leaders it that remote working and its success or otherwise will very much depend on the industry. They highlighted that some key questions to ask when considering remote working as an option are ‘how much in person contact do you need?’ and ‘are the productivity levels increasing or decreasing?’ There is no doubt amongst the group that remote working is an attractive proposition for employers and employees alike.
- Different approaches from managers will be key when analysing how it can work in their business and within teams. Management will need to review and monitor their people on the quantity as well as the quality of their work. As with many dimensions in business, clarity and communication will be instrumental to its success.
- Remote or hybrid working will open the door for companies to recruit talent from across Ireland and further afield. The broadening of skillsets within an organisation will only be enhanced by this new approach to the working environment.
- If there is one challenge for businesses it is learning to replicate and adapt the physical world in the virtual world, and the question of ‘how do businesses keep the culture alive?’ was raised. It is certainly a work in progress, but hybrid working will help industries to adapt. The physical presence will no longer be front and centre for all.
Digital world – need for digitalisation…
Oonagh O’Hagan, Owner and Managing Director of Meagher Pharmacy Group, is clear that online commerce is the way forward & all companies have to be thinking of, or operating in, this space with the potential to grow it. There are efficiencies for the consumer and business.
Ooaghs career started out as a Pharmacist. The opportunity arose for her to buy 1 pharmacy and from there she has expanded the business, successfully running 9 pharmacies and a very successful online platform. They set up their online business in 2014 and the platform became invaluable over the last 2 years in particular.
Meaghers were the first pharmacy in Ireland to set up virtual pharmacist which helped to alleviate a lot of people’s fears during the pandemic. The company are now shipping to 58 countries. Throughout the pandemic the platform was used to provide healthcare and prescriptions with their customers really embracing this way of engaging with their pharmacy for their healthcare requirements and was very much embraced by the older generation even though the assumption is they might not have!
Into the future, Oonagh realises that we are only scraping the surface of what e-commerce has to offer. Online was the only choice during the pandemic & it has been embraced…it is a great alternative. It has become safer in the current world for your business to trade online as well as for customers to buy goods and services. Legislation has changed and is changing to facilitate this new virtual world. It is definitely a key trend to watch and embrace.
Uplift in marketing products and services…
Sean Murray, CEO of Snap, a ‘outlined how their business is seeing an uplift in customer orders and as a business they are in a much better place than they were a year ago.
Businesses are readying for the year ahead. They are taking the opportunity to carry out a brand refresh. Their clients are ordering new signage and are looking for more print solutions to support their refresh and additional marketing needs for their businesses. Clients are also ordering more promotional products and gifts with volumes steadily increasing.
In Snap, they continue to maintain a huge focus on the quality of their products and service. It is intrinsic to the success of any business. Sean agrees that digital platforms are only growing in importance and the team are working with their clients to ensure that their online marketing/branding offering is working as a key way to promote the client’s business and win in customers for them.
Financial Services Landscape
A trend Catherine Moroney, Head of Business Banking Market at AIB & President of Dublin Chamber, has seen is that businesses have made a big turnaround in what they need from their banks. Customers are increasingly looking for supply chain financing, stock financing, as well as trade financing to run their businesses and the banks have to move with their customers to meet their demands.
Sustainability is also becoming more of a priority for businesses. Investment is increasing at a huge rate. At the recent COP26 summit, the IMF said Irelands spend on sustainability will be 20 billion per year over the next 10 years.
Whatever 2022 holds in store no one fully knows but we will continue to adapt as a country and as an economy. Vans becoming coffee shops on beaches, being able to meet friends locally at lunch time were once something that were unimaginable and have now become part of everyday life for so many of us. Also, a work life balance we never thought we would have!
There is no doubt that lots of key business trends are emerging for 2022, it certainly looks to be an exciting and interesting year ahead.
Sarah Kavanagh is an Associate with Barden’s Financial Services practice. She is an expert in financial services careers, predominantly within the asset management and fund services space.
She is a UCC grad, holding a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Economics & Psychology, and a MBS in Business Economics. She also went on to study and complete the Qualified Financial Advisor, Financial Planning & Services exams with The Institute of Bankers.
Sarah joined Barden in January 2020 and prior to that worked in various aspects of financial services including banking and asset management.
Get in touch with Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.