Published: 00:00, 06 May 2016
With clouds gathering over the world economy once more, key words are becoming apparent in comments from business owners.
“Confidence”, “caution” and “stability” are being heard again and again as bosses attempt to bring calm to troubled waters.
However, it is difficult sometimes to work out what is said purely in self interest and what comments are made with genuine economic concern.
As we all know, Kent is a thriving county, with a diverse mix of businesses in industries both old and new.
For years, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce has surveyed bosses from these companies about their performance and expectations, as part of its accreditation with the British Chambers of Commerce.
As uncertainty rears its head again as we head towards the EU referendum, what better way, then, to gain an insight into whether we are heading for dark days or able to emerge into a period of growth?
Kent Invicta Chamber’s members regularly contribute about 30% of the South East’s responses to the Quarterly Economic Survey, the largest UK survey of its kind.
The graphs and charts shown here are from its latest study. They show results for the past two years, measured over eight quarters.
It also gives a benchmark of findings for the first three months of 2008, after the UK bail-out of Northern Rock but before the failure of US banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers which caused the global economic downturn.
The richness of the data collated gives an accurate picture of the sentiment among directors and business owners in the county.
Thanks to this partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, we will bring this analysis of the county’s confidence every three months.
We hope it acts as a useful tool to our loyal readership.
More on the Quarterly Economic Survey
by David Armstrong
Towergate area managing director
Many of the findings in this survey are reflected in the discussions we have had with our own clients.
For the companies which are thriving, the challenge is to make sure new ideas and innovation drive growth but do not also pose an unacceptable risk to business.
For example, many companies are growing by transacting more business online but should be protecting themselves by considering cover for cyber attacks.
For firms that are struggling, the temptation can be to find ways of containing insurance costs, without simply taking uninsured risks.
The Quarterly Economic Survey shows recruitment and workforce growth has been slow. Recent pension reforms – bringing in automatic enrollment – have clearly proved a distraction for many.
However, some forward thinking companies are looking hard at the wider subject of employee benefits.
This can help them encourage and hold on to the high-quality staff.