For more than 160 years, the chartered accountants and financial planning experts of Lovewell Blake have been supporting businesses across East Anglia – and the firm has been a Future 50 partner from the beginning.

“One of the things that makes our region unique is the way small and medium-sized businesses account for such a significant percentage of local employment,” says Lovewell Blake partner James Shipp. “Future 50 is a chance to bring together some of the most exciting up-and-coming businesses of that sort – the kind of innovative companies that will ensure our local economy continues to grow and thrive.”

Many firms in the growth stage face the challenge of access to funding to drive growth, especially those that are not far enough forward in their development to have the in-house resources to chase that funding. Other young businesses may struggle to attract and retain talent with the key skills to drive that growth forward. That makes funding and finance key considerations if these businesses are to thrive.

“Through Future 50, the members not only have access to Lovewell Blake itself but also to the whole professional network of which we are a part,” says Lovewell Blake partner Mat Waters. "It won’t always be just basic accounts or tax advice these rapidly growing businesses will need, but potentially also HR, business advisory, R&D claims or corporate finance advice, to name but a few - all of which we can offer.”

A common mistake the Future 50 partners see at this growth stage is for companies to seek less costly advice, rather than securing the kind of quality support that is potentially even more important for the developing business than for ones that have already become established.

“For instance, where research and development is a big part of a growing business, ensuring it is structured favourably to take advantage of the various R&D tax reliefs is vital – and yet we often see young businesses that are not taking advantage of these benefits,” says James.

He stresses that as growing businesses seek to turn their initial idea into a commercial proposition, it can be crucial to get quality guidance on factors such as taking advantage of the tax breaks available for nascent companies or structuring a new business to retain key talent, as well as funding research and development. “They are all things we can help directly with, as Future 50 gives us the chance to get alongside our local growing businesses,” he says.

“The coronavirus did force changes on how last year’s programme operated and while I am very much looking forward to getting back to in-person events, the webinar format that we’ll be taking forward into 2022 has allowed more members to attend and let the partners focus on the big topics,” James adds.

“Presentations on Zoom can really target the key issues and inform in a more direct way. I also think the online format allowed the members to understand that they have access to a very broad range of experts, who have a lot to offer each of their businesses.”

Lovewell Blake is a top 50 firm of chartered accountants and financial planners. It has worked with local businesses for more than 160 years and has eight offices across the region, with 22 specialist partners. It is at the cutting edge of cloud accounting technology, specialised taxation advisory services and diverse audit and accounting expertise. Lovewell Blake is represented on the Future 50 board by James Shipp and Mat Waters.