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Warwick Hunt video transcript

Hello and welcome to this update on the performance of our business up to June 2020. Clearly, this was not a typical year, and it is therefore pleasing to report that the firm saw full year revenue growth of 3% to £4.4bn despite the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, which started to be felt in February. 

In total we saw eight good months in FY20, but the effects of the pandemic meant that overall consolidated profits were down 8% on 2019 at £938m. We said at the outset of the crisis that the partnership would prioritise job security and salaries, and as a result, distributable profits per partner of £685,000 were down 10% year-on-year. 

We were very clear that we would not look to Government for help or support - consequently we did not use the furlough scheme or access any other forms of government funding. That approach has been both the right thing to do and has served us well throughout the crisis.  

There were three things we identified early that were critical to how we dealt with the challenge. The underlying strength of the business and the fact that we were ahead of budget up to February meant we had access to our own sources of funding, which, together with a clear focus on working capital management has served us well.

Technology was also a key factor in our response. Over the last several years we strategically invested in cloud based technology. This year that investment proved invaluable. Not only did we need the systems to effectively allow us to close our offices overnight, it also required our people to switch to full time working from home. Given our everyday flexibility approach, many were already hybrid working so it was much less of a cultural shift.

Finally, we had to retain a relentless focus on the marketplace, continuing to deliver quality and relevant work. Despite the disruption we needed to remain accessible and focused on those organisations we work with and for, to understand what they were experiencing and come up with solutions focused on the important problems they were facing. Our people’s skill, dedication and discipline and our technology infrastructure made this possible. 

Such has been everyone’s singular commitment, we were able to pay bonuses to our staff at 72% of the record levels we had established in 2019. 

Despite the pandemic, we continued our investment in quality across our business with a particular focus on our programme to enhance audit quality, including establishing a new national digital audit team. In FY20, our audit practice represented 23% of our overall revenues and throughout the year has performed strongly, underlining the importance and resilience of the multi disciplinary firm.

Each of our other UK businesses performed well against the market uncertainty, with sound overall results posted across the majority of segments, sectors and industries, despite the very real challenges that existed.

Elsewhere, we’ve continued to work closely with our Middle East firm, creating strong momentum despite all of the challenges we’ve faced. We’ve retained our market focus through leadership of the EMEA cluster as well as our Central and Eastern Europe and Africa alliances.

After one of the most tumultuous periods I can remember, I’m really proud that we’ve managed to come out of this phase of the disruption with a strong business, a committed workforce and strong and effective client relationships. 

Looking ahead, while the environment retains uncertainties, the deals-led recovery we predicted over the summer is now becoming a reality and we enter 2021 with marketplace momentum and a quiet confidence that we move forward in fundamentally sound shape.

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