Budget 2014 – Budget Breakfast

The early rise this morning was accompanied by George Osborne on the TV screens at breakfast, and the realisation that the reaction to this Budget wasn’t over – in fact it had only just begun!

With that in mind, Ed and I made the journey over to the London Stock Exchange (with only minor directional hiccups) for this morning’s Budget Breakfast, an event held by Grant Thornton to provide reaction to yesterday’s announcement and gain initial perspective to how it may affect our clients and the economy as a whole.

Jonathan Riley, our National Head of Tax, was conducting proceedings but found the time to come and say hello to Mr Passmore and I, thanking us for yesterday’s blogs and welcoming us to the event.  The words ‘I’ve had a thought, why don’t you lads do the introduction?’ followed – then a brief pause as Ed and I contemplated getting up on stage in 30 minutes time – before Jonathan let out a chuckle, much to our relief.  A man that not only knows his tax but also quite the actor – I was convinced!

Jonathan opened with some tax analysis of the Budget, welcoming most of the Chancellor’s policies but saying he was slightly disappointed not to see a couple of changes that Grant Thornton had hoped for (as discussed in my ‘What to look out for’ blog).  One of our hopes had been that the National Insurance Contribution (NIC) threshold would be raised along with the income tax personal allowance so that anyone with a four figure income would not be liable to any ‘tax’ on that, whether that be disguised as NICs or otherwise.  He would also have liked to have seen a NIC exemption for apprenticeships, further incentivising companies to offer them to people such as our blog readers.  The importance of initiatives such as apprenticeships was a constant theme which ran throughout the speeches.

Charles Davies from the Centre for Economics and Business Research gave us his insight and confirmed George Osborne’s analysis that the economy is recovering.  Innocent Drinks Group Finance Director James Davenport said that this was the main thing that he took from yesterday, with that overview likely to have an impact on consumers behaviour as well as leading those in the market place to become less risk averse and more opportunistic.

Our National Leadership and Culture Director, Mel Wombwell then gave a speech on the battle for talent – yes that’s you!  If there is one thing that the firm really know the value of, it’s having great people.  I think when attending interviews, wherever they may be, that’s a positive thing to bear in mind to keep you at your best in your interview.  Grant Thornton and our competitors need good people as much as you need a job, the power in an interview situation or assessment centre isn’t all one way – it’s as much about you finding out if that job is right for you as the other way around, so ask questions!

Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee, Brooks Newmark MP was last on stage – an MP who gained experience in private equity before a career change (real world experience that Mr Riley is keen for a lot more Government officials to have).  Brooks outlined the vision given by Mr Osborne yesterday and ensured guests that the Tories were the party to support (obviously that’s his job and not mine so as always I’ll leave you to form your own political opinions).

The session was rounded off with a quick question and answer session before attendees headed off back to work (it seems that the majority of Financial Directors are in a touch more of a rush than myself and Ed who helped ourselves to another orange juice before saying our goodbyes to everyone who we’ve been working with on the #GTBudget response over the past 48 hours).

Looking back on the last couple of days whilst on the train back to the day job in Birmingham, I can say that I’ve loved every minute.  It’s great to work somewhere where you get such opportunities whilst still a trainee but more than that (and going back to my point above), it’s the people that work here – from the people you meet on courses at Bradenham, right to those at the very top of the firm – that make this a great place to work.

Next time that a team is being assembled to cover an event such as this, there’ll be no-one replying to the email quicker than me!

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