- Eight consecutive years of strong growth, balanced across all core businesses and geographies
- Emerging markets continue accelerating growth trend – up by 10%
- 21 acquisitions and 4 new alliances in 2018 expand resources and capabilities in strategy, AI, blockchain, cyber, RPA and digital
- To spend US$1b in technology-related capabilities over the next two financial years, buttressing growth in new innovation services
- Commits more than one-half billion dollars annually to upskilling EY people, and another 65,000 people to join in FY19
- EY expands reporting to include key non-financial metrics for stakeholders and moves to long-term value creation
LONDON, 13 SEPTEMBER 2018. EY today announces combined global revenues of US$34.8 billion for the financial year ended June 2018.
Overall, financial year (FY) 2018 revenues grew by 7.4% in local currency and 11% in US dollars (versus FY17). All EY service lines delivered strong growth in FY18: in local currency Assurance grew 4.4%; Advisory 10.1%; Tax 6.4% and Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) 13.9%. Over the five years since the launch of its Vision 2020 plan in 2013, EY has recorded strong 8.5% compound annual growth.
Mark Weinberger, EY Global Chairman and CEO, says:
“This year more clients turned to EY for support in their digital and transformation strategies, and for our bedrock services across audit and tax. Our significant and innovative investments are driving growth and supporting the delivery of high-quality services. Most of all, our success is driven by the contributions of 260,000 EY people around the world.”
Innovation and technology transforming traditional EY services and driving growth
EY has been redefining how it uses technology to transform and strengthen its traditional and new service offerings across all businesses, including labor-intensive manual processes and innovations using blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). EY is using over 2,000 bots across its businesses and client services. Of these, the 700 bots supporting EY internally have saved more than 2.1 million people hours and brought higher accuracy to manual processes.
In FY18, EY doubled the number of blockchain projects it undertook and launched a number of groundbreaking solutions and pilots. EY Assurance is running a pilot of blockchain audit technologies known as EY Blockchain Analyzer that enhances the ability to perform in-depth reviews of cryptocurrency business transactions. This will also lay the foundation for automated audit tests of smart contracts and blockchain assets.
Additionally, EY teamed up with Microsoft to launch the first blockchain solution for content rights and royalties management. Ubisoft, one of the world’s leading game publishers, is testing the solution, which will be extended from gaming to other industries like music and publishing. EY and Guardtime also announced that their blockchain platform for the marine insurance sector is now in commercial use – a world-first. EY is also working with the City of Vienna using blockchain to validate and secure its data, from voting results to transport schedules and routes.
Targeted strategic acquisitions and alliances also supported EY’s innovation efforts. In FY18, there were 21 acquisitions in EY, which expanded the organization’s professional skills and capabilities in areas like digital, data, analytics, strategy and cyber. New alliance agreements, such as those with BlackLine Systems and JDA Software, are expanding the range of services and skills EY can bring to clients in areas like cloud-technology, supply chain and fintech.
As part of its innovation drive, EY will invest US$1b in new technology solutions and capabilities over the next two financial years in areas like financial services, cyber, risk management, managed services, software, digital tax and digital audit. In FY18, two additional EY wavespace™ flagship locations opened in Milan and Tel Aviv, bringing the number of globally connected flagship innovation centers to 18. EY plans to launch a further six locations in FY19 to continue its aim to help clients conceive and launch solutions in mobility, customer experience, data analytics and more.
Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global Managing Partner – Client Service, says:
“Our commitment to deploying the best use cases for new technologies helps clients not just keep pace, but stay ahead of the vast disruption in today’s business world. Significant investments in people, technology and alliances over the past few years are transforming traditional and emerging EY services alike. We are proud that we are empowering clients to succeed and grow in this complex environment.”
Commitment to audit quality
As a multidisciplinary professional services organization, audit quality is — and will always be — the highest focus at EY and is the key measure of its reputation. To stay relevant and to deliver long-term value through EY services, the Assurance business is evolving its thinking and judgments around the execution of the audit process to help ensure audit quality. The EY Sustainable Audit Quality program, in its fourth year, continues to improve quality by holding EY people accountable on a specific set of metrics that are executed globally. This is complemented by the multi-year US$500m investment in digital audit capabilities, people and global audit methodologies.
The future of work
EY continues to transform its approach to talent, providing meaningful career opportunities and enabling EY people to develop “hot” skills. Last year, it introduced digital credentials known as EY Badges to help EY people cultivate skills related to emerging technology, innovation and sectors. Today, more than 15,000 EY Badges have been initiated and more than 2,800 EY Badges have been earned, with data visualization and RPA being the most earned badges to date. In FY19, EY aims to have 50,000 badges initiated.
EY strives to be a leader in the recruitment and development of people around the world. In FY18, nearly two million people applied to work in the organization. More than 65,000 people with core audit and tax skills as well as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and technology backgrounds joined. Today there are more than 20,000 data and analytics practitioners and more than 2,000 data scientists in EY. Approximately US$500m has been invested and more than 13 million formal hours in learning have been conducted annually, on top of experiential development and systemized mentoring.
Overall, headcount increased by 5.7%, to over 260,000 people globally. In FY18, 747 people were promoted to partner and more than 400 new external partners were admitted. Partner promotions reflected key priorities: 29% of the promoted partners are within the Assurance business, 32% of new partners are from emerging markets and women represent nearly 30%. This year the gender diversity on the Global Executive, the highest governing body in EY, increased to more than 26%.
The EY global talent marketplace, called GigNow, is currently available in 10 countries, expanding from the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to Canada, China, India, the Netherlands and Singapore. At the end of FY18, GigNow had 16,000 contractors registered for short-term “gigs” and filled more than 1,300 positions for EY projects around the world.
EY continues to be recognized on prestigious lists for its outstanding people culture. It continues to be the world’s most attractive professional services employer for business students in Universum’s annual “World’s Most Attractive Employer” ranking, and fourth overall behind Apple, Google and Goldman Sachs. In the US, EY was recognized in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For®” annual list for a record 20-consecutive years. EY was also inducted into Diversity Inc’s first-ever “Top 50 Hall of Fame” recognizing EY’s corporate values, culture and its longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Growth across geographies, key industries and markets
Revenue increased across all four of the EY geographic areas: the Americas 7.4%; Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) 6.9%; Asia-Pacific 10.5% and Japan 3.1%.
Across the developed markets, the US has had another impressive year, achieving US$14b in revenue, a 7.3% increase over FY17. The Transactions business led the growth in the US buoyed by a strong M&A market and increased demand for strategic consulting, integration, diligence and other services. Its double-digit Advisory growth was driven by areas including cyber services, digital, analytics and technology transformation, while Assurance continued a steady flow of new audit engagements, including two Fortune 500 corporations. Elsewhere, Germany achieved strong growth, led by double-digit growth in TAS and Advisory. EY also saw strong growth in Australia, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
The emerging markets continue their strong growth trend and are up by 10% (vs. 8.9% growth in FY17). Greater China, one of EY’s top five markets by revenue overall, recorded its third year of double-digit growth, up by 11.6%, driven by strong growth across all EY service lines. India continues its eighth consecutive year of double-digit growth, up by 16.3%. Mexico also achieved double-digit growth at 15.3%.
EY recorded strong revenues across various industry sectors with Wealth & Asset Management and Insurance both achieving double-digit growth. Growth in Wealth & Asset Management was driven by strong demand for technology and business transformation, customer experience and operational efficiency initiatives. Insurance achieved double-digit growth from demand for technology and business transformation services across Advisory and Tax, as well as providing clients with IFRS 17-related services including finance, risk and regulatory advice.
Investments and growth in the business
► Assurance: Audit quality remains an unrelenting focus. Through long-term and continued investments in digital technology, EY people and its global methodologies, the business achieved increased growth of 4.4% (vs. 4% in FY17). Its EY Canvas and EY Helix audit platform and tools are enhancing quality and confidence to meet the evolving needs of business, regulators and investors. Further innovations to support audit quality in FY18 include: EY Lease Reviewer, which uses AI to support transitions to new accounting standards; EY Canvas mobile applications, which are radically transforming the support of an audit, providing more connectivity and streamlined communication. Its market-leading audit technology is a major factor in new audit clients. New engagements include: BHP Billiton, General Motors, Grupo Bimbo, Jiangxi Copper, Standard Chartered Bank and Tate & Lyle. Financial Accounting Advisory Services once again delivered impressive double-digit growth, by supporting clients with the adoption of numerous accounting standard changes and providing accounting support to clients with transactions (IPOs, divestitures and more). EY also continues to build a broader set of Forensic & Integrity Services offerings that help organizations protect and restore enterprise and financial reputation.
► Advisory: Strong client demand for services for technologies – including intelligent automation, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics and cybersecurity – contributed largely to Advisory’s eighth consecutive year of double-digit growth. New and existing global strategic alliances continue to support revenue growth. In FY18, EY announced four new joint solutions with Microsoft and it teamed up with JDA Software to transform EY clients’ supply chains by delivering the latest digitalization advances. It also formed an alliance with BlackLine to expand EY services to clients to improve finance and accounting operations. Strategic acquisitions – like Melbourne-based Open Windows and Aspect Security – continue to support high- growth areas like cybersecurity.
► Tax: Global and US tax reform and legislative-driven demand for transfer pricing and indirect tax services led the growth of the Tax business. Digital technology is changing how organizations and authorities manage tax reporting and obligations. This also boosted revenue growth as clients sought digital tax administration services and support with the application of blockchain, robotics and AI in tax operations to manage tax “big data.” To complement its digital portfolio, in FY18 EY acquired the technology assets and related patents for a Crypto-Asset Accounting and Tax (CAAT) tool to support tax liability calculations for cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets. Additionally, demand for EY legal services fueled its expansion to more than 2,200 law practitioners in more than 80 countries around the world. EY People Advisory Services continued to grow and announced a collaboration with Concur on the first fully integrated tax and immigration solution for business travelers.
► Transaction Advisory Services: The fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth in TAS was led by an across-the-board increase in all its services including capital strategy, corporate finance and divestments. In FY18, it advised on 8 of the top 10 global M&A deals. As clients pursue digital transformations, they are increasingly turning to EY TAS to advise on capital allocation strategies, as well as to access to leading-edge analytical tools applied to M&A, divestments and capital infrastructure investment programs.
Building a better working world
EY is a purpose-driven organization, committed to its purpose of building a better working world. This is fulfilled by helping governments, businesses and communities globally solve their toughest challenges. Its purpose inspires EY people to use their knowledge, skills and experiences to support the communities in which they live and work around the world. In FY18, EY invested nearly US$125m in projects dedicated to strengthening its communities and its people contributed 740k hours of time to a variety of initiatives and value-in-kind projects. For example:
► As part of its commitment to inclusive and long-term growth, EY has been working with the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism and more than 30 companies representing nearly US$30t of assets under management on a framework to reflect the full value companies create. This follows calls for businesses around the globe to demonstrate their contribution to long-term value creation for all of society. EY and the Coalition will share their progress and commitments in November this year.
► EY NextGen is helping young girls in South Africa pursue degrees in fields such as medicine, engineering and accounting.
► In the US, EY is helping students, unemployed people and startups in local communities to develop their public speaking, networking and presentation skills so they have the confidence to lead and grow professionally.
► Through its neurodiversity program in the US, EY is hiring people on the autism spectrum and sharing program leading practices with other leading organizations around the world to help address the broader unemployment challenges people with autism face.
► In Kenya, EY is working with Sanergy to help scale a business that is helping to make basic sanitation affordable and accessible in some of the poorest areas of Nairobi.
Investments in people and new technologies not only help EY succeed in the market, but sustains its role in building a better working world.
Commitment to long-term value creation
As part of the EY purpose to build a better working world, it is focused on creating long-term value for all its stakeholders, including the capital markets, EY people and the communities in which it operates. For the first time this year, EY is reporting a broader range of financial and non-financial metrics to demonstrate how it is creating long-term value for its stakeholders. The metrics, available in its Global Review, cover a range of areas, including:
„ Commitment to EY people: measures on career progression, investment in new skills, people engagement scores, attrition rates and diversity and inclusiveness.
„ Service quality, environmental and stakeholder relationships: measures on sustainable audit quality, greenhouse gas emissions and community impact, and commentary on relationships with regulators and alumni.
„ Growth: traditional growth metrics and relative brand strength.
Investors remain worried about COVID, but positive towards stamp duty holiday
By Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment
The journey back to economic normality will be strenuous. COVID-19 has imbued many financial markets with a great deal of uncertainty, making accurate forecasts difficult for fear that a second spike in cases or further lockdown measures may affect market confidence at a moment’s notice.
However, ensuring investor confidence remains high in the short-to-medium term is paramount for avoiding economic stagnation throughout the rest of 2020. Without economic stimulus, the UK’s post-pandemic economic recovery will remain delayed until the virus is contained globally; and given the uncertainty surrounding when this will be accomplished, the economic damage inflicted in the meantime could be grave.
The Government, of course, has been quick to recognise this. It has implemented numerous policies designed to coax activity back to some key markets, most notably in the property sector.
The stamp duty land tax (SDLT) holiday especially seems to be succeeding in attracting buyers back to the market, with property listing site Rightmove recording an immediate 75% increase in buyer enquiries following the policy’s implementation. Meanwhile, Halifax’s August house price index (HPI) revealed a year-on-year average house price rise of 5.2%.
After months of the government dissuading people from moving home due to COVID-19 contagion fears, it seems as though the SDLT holiday is managing to release some of the pent-up demand for property that accrued during lockdown. Domestic and international buyers alike are now compelled to take advantage of the lucrative real estate opportunities on offer, with tax savings of up to £15,000 available during the holiday.
What is crucial, however, is that this momentum is sustained. As COVID-19 case numbers begin rising once again, if people view the UK as not having a handle on the spread of the virus, they may be reluctant to make any major decisions regarding their asset portfolio.
To explore how exactly investors are currently perceiving the government’s capacity for effective COVID-19 containment, and how they are managing their financial affairs during this challenging period, FJP Investment recently commissioned an independent survey of over 900 UK-based investors. Each of the investors surveyed has an investment portfolio in excess of £10,000, excluding savings, pensions, SIPPs and residential property.
What we discovered was that, although the SDLT holiday referenced above is being positively received, there are still obstacles to overcome within the wider economic bounce-back.
Among those surveyed, a quarter (24%) of investors stated they are planning on buying one or more new properties to take advantage of the SDLT holiday, a figure that rises to 43% for those aged between 18 and 34.]
Given the substantial potential discounts available, it makes sense that those keen on making their first step onto the property ladder – or building a real estate portfolio – would jump at the chance while market conditions are right. With the SDLT holiday period coming to a close at the end of March 2021, buyers will be keen on finalising their transactions before this key date.
However, 43% of the investors surveyed believed that more financial incentives and support should be offered by the government. Sticking to the property sector, over half (54%) think the mortgage payment holiday relief scheme should be extended beyond its current finishing date of 31st October 2020.
Elsewhere, FJP Investment’s research showed that 57% of investors are keen to see more financial relief for businesses that have experienced disruption to their cashflow due to the pandemic.
Facilitating the strong economic recovery
More worryingly for the government, however, is the current lackluster reception of its recent public health strategy. The majority (54%) of the investors surveyed admitted they had lost confidence in Boris Johnson’s government due to their apparent mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
Increasing case numbers and unfavourable international comparisons risk deterring both domestic and international investors away from UK property – elongating pandemic-related economic stagnation for the foreseeable future.
Ensuring the government soon regains a reputation for good governance and epidemiological competence, then, should be an absolute priority for government advisers. Prospective investors – not just in property but all manner of UK-based assets – must have confidence their assets will not undergo a surprise devaluation due to factors outside of their control.
Personally, I’m confident that the right decisions will be made and the current boom in demand for UK property will be sustained. Investors will continue to be successfully attracted back to the market, and the UK can enjoy a prosperous real estate market once again – fuelling a wider post-pandemic economic resurgence across the nation.
Revitalising the token market
By Gavin Smith, CEO at Panxora
With interest rates near zero and fears that whipsawing stock markets are set for further plunges, many investors are turning to alternative markets in the search for returns. Money flowing into cryptocurrency hedge funds and trusts like Grayscale is at all-time highs and the large cap coins seem to be entering a bull phase, but that capital is not trickling down into new token projects. Why are blockchain token projects struggling to attract funding?
Seed investor scepticism
Setting aside the reputational issues with mainstream investors, even those educated in blockchain tech are not signing on the dotted line. This is certainly due in part to the hangover from the early token market.
During the heady days of 2016/17, investors could buy tokens during the token sale, and if the project was legitimate – even if the business case wasn’t particularly strong – prices would soar based on market enthusiasm. Early investors purchased at a discount and cashed out almost immediately for a handsome profit – and then repeated the process again. The token sale allowed founders to amass a war chest large enough to finance the entire token project – without having to give up a large chunk of company equity. Everyone got what they needed out of the deal.
Running a token sale is far more expensive today than it was during the boom. Getting the attention of the token buying public in a market where advertorial has replaced editorial is expensive. This coupled with a regulatory framework that requires the advice of accountants, solicitors and information gathering of KYC details for investors all comes with an escalating price tag.
To accommodate the change in cost structure, tokens now need to acquire funding in two rounds. Frequently there is a first round where capital is raised from a few, large investors. This cash is then used to finance setup and marketing the main token sale. The token sale, in turn, provides the capital needed to run the entire business project.
Bridging the gap between token projects’ needs and early stage investors
To successfully get a token through the capital raising process, founders must acknowledge the risk assumed by those very early investors and reward them appropriately. And given that tokens may stagnate or fall in price post token sale means that a deep discount in token price is not necessarily attractive enough to get investors to commit.
Many tokens have turned to offering equity in the business in the effort to raise that first tranche of capital. If you look at the number of successfully concluded token sales, the downward trend has continued since Q2 2018, so offering equity is not sufficiently stimulating the market.
Two sides of the coin
So, what is the answer? It’s a complex question but one thing is certain. Any solution must be rooted in a deep understanding of what both parties need to successfully conclude the deal.
On the one hand, token founders’ needs are clear: they need enough capital to get the token ready for and through a successful liquidity event that will provide sufficient funds to build the project. The challenge lies in striking the right balance between accruing that capital and making sure not to offer so much project equity that give up either the control or the incentive founders need to drive the project forward.
On the other hand, while the needs of the seed capital investors are more complex, there are two areas of key concern: transparency and profit incentives.
Transparency can mean many things, but almost always includes providing more informative cost and profit projections, as well as answers to a whole range of questions, not least the following:
- What happens to investor capital if the token sale event fails? Token founders must be transparent from the outset. The token market is highly speculative and early investors run the risk of losing their money should the project fail. Therefore, investors require a well-established fund governance process in place throughout the fundraising so they can make informed decisions on whether the project is worthwhile.
- How are the assets for the entire project managed? Investors need to know that their money is in good hands and that proper treasury management techniques are being used to manage cryptocurrency volatility risk. Ideally, an independent custodian will be used to hold the funds and limit founders’ ability to draw down the capital – releasing funds to an agreed-upon schedule of milestones.
- How are the rights of investors protected, for instance in the case of a trade sale? Investors need to know what happens if the company they are investing in is sold. What impact could this have on the value of their stake? Would a separate governance framework need to be established? These are critical questions and investors aren’t likely to settle for any ambiguity in the answers.
Profit incentives are important when it comes to encouraging early participation in a project. Investors need convincing that the proposition will keep risks to a minimum and focus on providing a strong probability of a return. This means that founders need to be able to defend the case for the increase in the value of their token.
But this isn’t the only incentive that matters. Investors can also be incentivised by preferential offerings such as early access to projects and services that might help their own business.
Let’s not forget that investors don’t support just any project. What really matters is that there is something special and unique about the business being underwritten by the token. Preferably something that could be shared upfront and directly benefit the investor – proof that the investment is really worth it.
And that’s what it all comes down to. Ultimately, while token projects are having a hard time finding funds at the moment, if they can prove their worth and provide full transparency and clear profit incentives to ease investors’ concerns, the money is out there. And deals can be done.
Achieving steady returns in challenging times for later life planning
By Matt Dickens, Senior Business Development Director at Ingenious
The macro-economic conditions of the last five years have presented a relentless challenge for money managers seeking to produce consistent returns. It seems an all too distant memory that UK markets were caught in a happy period of low volatility and positive growth since the recovery from the financial crisis started in 2009. Enter 2016 and we have since found ourselves in an era of exceptional uncertainty. An acrimonious Brexit referendum and the following ambiguity, pressure on sterling, repeated challenges to the UK Government, a trade war between two of the world’s super-powers and now a global pandemic. All this as the world is going through a digital revolution.
Under these exceptional conditions, many investment strategies have understandably struggled to sustain the growth that investors had previously enjoyed without taking on elevated levels of risk and experiencing greater volatility and its associated negative impact. However, Ingenious Estate Planning has been operating alternative investment strategies for several years, which have produced a steady return with low volatility over this time as they possess little correlation to the main listed markets.
The affordable end of the UK’s residential real estate market has proven to be extremely robust during the recent uncertainty. The market benefits from some core fundamentals that have assisted it withstanding a lot of the pressures experienced by other sectors. Firstly, a large and sustained supply deficit. In 2018 the UK built 80,000 fewer houses than the actual requirement of 300,0001. This strong, inherent demand poses a clear investment opportunity to investors who can fund construction projects in the safe knowledge that there is an established demand on completion.
Secondly, this supply deficit has been recognised by Governments for several years and there has been a raft of policies enacted, all supportive of building more houses. For instance, the Help to Buy scheme has enabled many, often first-time buyers onto the property ladder. This scheme means there is a well-established and subsidised group of buyers ready to buy whenever developers complete construction. Thirdly, and more recently, the Government has acted quickly to identify the property sector as one that is key to the UK’s recovery from Covid-19. Through relaxing planning laws and offering stamp duty holidays, both the construction and sales market are being given valuable incentives that support an ongoing return for real estate investors.
Secured lending model
Despite these positive forces however, there remain some risks with investing in the property market, so a conservative investment strategy is key to protecting investors. Rather than take a 100% equity, or ownership, position in a house-builder, developer or single property, a portfolio-based, secured lending model, has a number of clear risk-mitigating benefits. For instance, by lending to a portfolio of developers, carefully selected on a project-by-project basis, and by earning a fixed rate of interest, rather than taking equity risk, there is inherently lower volatility in returns given the protection of a senior debt position on each development. Contracts set out clear loan terms meaning that regular interest is paid on the investment and upon final sale the repayment is made in full, all with the benefit of banking-style security protections. By contrast, equity investments and associated valuations can fluctuate over time as the asset price changes and so it is far more vulnerable to market conditions and sentiment, and ultimately any drop in value is suffered by the investor. In the lending model, any loss is initially felt by the borrower.
Benefits for estate planning
Ingenious Estate Planning Private Real Estate utilises this secured lending investment strategy. The Business Relief- qualifying service is commonly used by clients planning for later life. As savers and investors reach retirement and decumulation, they present wealth managers with a unique set of investment problems. Without careful planning, the start of this phase for many could signal the end of any capital growth and herald their savings being eroded to pay for life’s needs. Any investment offering both high volatility and potential drawdowns may therefore become unpalatable. And while many would wish to gift savings to their children to mitigate the risks to their beneficiaries of paying a hefty inheritance tax bill upon their death, the thought of losing both control and access to these savings when they may still need them, means many feel uncomfortable in taking that step.
However, this does not need to be a fate accepted by savvy investors and planners who can utilise a proven trading strategy that continues to both carefully and predictably grow their investment while also providing potentially full relief from inheritance tax.
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