Business leaders ‘more diverse’ thanks to technology

Evolving technology has dramatically changed the demographics of business owners, PwC has said.

Stephen Moore, who leads PwC’s merger and acquisition business across Yorkshire, said the region is home to an increasingly diverse mid-market business community.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “You see a huge diversity of businesses in that space, both in terms of the sector where they’re located and the age profile of owners in those businesses.”

Since 2006, the number of businesses launched by people aged under 35 has risen by 70 per cent, he said.

As a result, successful privately-owned companies are no longer dominated by multi-generational family enterprises.

Mr Moore said: “There are around 350,000 private companies across Yorkshire.

“It’s not necessarily second, third or fourth generation businesses that are important.

“There’s a real growth of young people setting up businesses and creating new opportunities.”

Technology and the rise of digital industries has been a major driving force in changing the business landscape, PwC tax partner and private business leader Gordon Singer said.

He said: “Apple brought out the first iPad just five years ago. That shows the speed at which things are happening and changing.

“We do come across many fantastic technology businesses, the growth of which will be very significant, very quickly.”

As well as a rise in digitally-focused businesses in the region, such as Asos, Uber and Sky Bet, it is also changing the way firms in other sectors approach their work.

PwC partner Mr Moore said: “If you look at the way businesses try to access markets now, technology is a big part of that. Businesses have got to move with the times and technology is an enabler.”

However, Mr Singer said there are some challenges that come with rapidly-developing technology.

He said: “Technology moves very fast and the best businesses will keep ahead of the curve on that.

“There may be generational issues, because many businesses here have passed through families.

“It’s important there are exit routes and advisers who can help plan for the future.”

PwC has adapted its own services to use technology to better support private businesses.

Its My Financepartner service provides a cloud-based accounting system that produces quality management information, which is backed by support from PwC advisers.

Mr Singer said: “It is particularly suitable for private businesses, because it means we can lend our expertise into the system, which is very flexible.

“That leaves the businesses to do what they do best, which is growing revenues.”

In 2014 there were almost 600,000 business start-ups in the UK, up around 10 per cent on 2013. The majority of these were private businesses.

Private business is the “backbone of the Yorkshire economy”, which is why PwC is sponsoring this year’s Excellence in Business Awards, Mr Singer said.

The professional services firm is backing the category for companies with a turnover between £10m and £50m.

Mr Singer said: “We support this category because we think private businesses are going to drive the economic recovery in Yorkshire.

“We’ve already seen evidence of that. We are passionate about all levels of private businesses.”

The Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards takes place in October.

The event – which marks its 10th anniversary this year – celebrates the best of the region’s business community.

The theme for 2015’s awards is responsibility in business.

Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu will be this year’s the keynote speaker.

Justin Webb, presenter of the BBC Today programme, will reprise his role as master of ceremonies.

DLA Piper, PwC and Yorkshire Bank return as main sponsors of the awards, with associate sponsors Bradford University School of Management, Drax Group, QBE Insurance and thebigword.

By: Yorkshire Post