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A year of uncertainty but a lot to look forward to in 2018

We live in a volatile and changing world, and as 2017 draws to an end and we look forward to 2018 there is plenty of uncertainty in the air.

In the political sphere, we will have to wait to see if our exit from the European Union will be smooth or fraught with difficulty. At least Theresa May and her negotiating team have now been able to make sufficient progress on divorce talks to move on to the next stage that will cover transitional arrangements and trade.

Elsewhere in the world, we may wonder what effect Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will have on conflict in the Middle East. His brinkmanship with North Korea will also continue to destabilise that region as well. Perhaps the US mid-term elections in November 2018 will change the complexion of government over there.

In China, Xi Jinping has consolidated his authority and secured an exceptional degree of power to modernise the country by 2025. His ‘Belt and Road’ initiative will see Chinese investment in ambitious infrastructure projects increase across the globe.

In business, tech-driven disruption will intensify. Artificial Intelligence, mobile streaming, virtual technology, driverless cars, commercial drones and so on will all develop at pace. Many businesses will be battling for their future and have to think deeply about how technology will affect their existing business models.

For the individual, the UK tax authorities will shortly be rolling out the ‘Making Tax Digital’ system. This will involve all of us having our own digital tax account with the requirement to upload information on a quarterly basis. The traditional tax return will within three years have been consigned to history. Once everyone is used to this change I am sure it will be a more efficient process that will make sure everyone is aware of their tax obligations. The transition will, however, be challenging for a number of people and we are doing all we can to develop our systems to help clients with their new obligations.

That said, and despite all the uncertainty, I remain optimistic for the New Year and foreseeable future.

It is a good time for the global economy. 2018 marks 10 years since the start of the last financial crisis – for many a lost decade – but there are encouraging signs of growth. All the major economies are likely to move ahead. Donald Trump’s tax cutting agenda in the USA, China’s infrastructure investment and the growing economic power of populations in India and other developing countries will drive global consumer demand for goods and services.

In recent years, the UK economy has been a good performer on the international stage. In the past 5 years GDP have grown by a fifth and, while wages growth has been poor, unemployment has been well below long run averages. The Brexit vote has done less immediate damage than was first feared by many and consumer spending and business investment has held up.

But will we all be happier in 2018?

There is a lot to look forward to next year.

It was in 1968 that the landmark programme ‘Civilisation’ presented by Kenneth Clark was broadcast by the BBC. A new version, ‘Civilisations’ will be broadcast in the spring presented by Mary Beard, Simon Schama and David Olusoga. This is the BBC’s largest ever cultural project and I am looking forward to it.

For football fans, we have the World Cup in Russia for the first time. Surely England must fare better than previous outings. Let’s hope so.

In the South East, we will get a boost from the opening of Crossrail in Central London in December 2018. It will be fantastic to have the building work out of the way and open up travel across the City.

And for movie buffs, Mary Poppins 2 will be hitting our screens as a sequel to the original with Emily Blunt in the title role and without Dick van Dyke’s questionable English accent..

On that note, can I say thank you to all our people throughout the firm who consistently deliver a first class service, and to all of you, our clients, for allowing us to serve you during the year. We look forward to helping you navigate the changes that the future will bring and I do hope that 2018 turns out to be supercalifragilistic for you, your family and business.

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