Tim is the engagement director at Duncan & Toplis, an accountancy firm Foresight has worked closely with on a number of MEIF deals.
Tell us about Duncan & Toplis and your work within GLLEP and the local area.
Duncan & Toplis is one of the largest independent chartered accountants in the East Midlands and one of the UK’s top accountancy companies nationwide. It has 11 offices, most of which are within the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership area.
We offer a wide range of services from accountancy, audit and tax to payroll and HR. Our clients are typically SMEs, family-run businesses and private individuals in sectors including agriculture, leisure and tourism, healthcare, property and construction and logistics. We also have a substantial client base in the academy sector.
At Duncan & Toplis, we are advocates for the county and the wider East Midlands as a great place to live, work and invest. The company is 95 years old and has been helping companies grow and thrive in the area for generations. Some of our existing clients have been using Duncan & Toplis for three or four generations of family ownership and some companies have been with us for 40 years or more.
What level of business activity and investment are you seeing locally?
Lincolnshire is experiencing some significant changes, partly stemming from the growth and development of the University of Lincoln which officially launched in 2001 and the impact that this has had on the city of Lincoln.
Traditionally, Lincolnshire has been reliant on the agricultural sector where assets have underpinned growth aspirations. Agriculture in the county still produces 20% of all foodstuffs consumed in the UK, but the growth and development of the University of Lincoln and the less obvious growth of manufacturing in the area is leading to higher demand for investment.
While business activity in Lincolnshire is not as prolific as in other East Midlands counties, this is rapidly changing with more businesses hungry for growth and investment.
What opportunities and challenges do you see for local business owners?
Banks are still reluctant to support small businesses with the funding they need to grow, which can be a frustration for entrepreneurs who want to scale up their small businesses. As an alternative to reliance on banks, equity investment represents a good opportunity for many local businesses.
While equity style investment has always been a peripheral activity, private investors who would buy a stake in a business in exchange for capital could be the financial boost that many businesses need. Equity investment can more than adequately filling in the space that’s being left by the banks and this could be a big opportunity for growth.
Businesses in the East Midlands and in Greater Lincolnshire can offer a good return for equity investors and since there’s little to indicate that banks will be more inclined to lend any time soon, equity investment could fit the bill as a viable alternative for businesses looking to scale up in our area.
What advice would you give to local business owners who are thinking about seeking investment?
Investment can help a business to unlock its potential and scale up, but it’s important to make the right decisions and identify the best form of investment for their business. Finding and securing investment can be complicated and there are a number of very important issues that need to be considered.
I would advise business owners who are thinking of looking for investment to research the right options for them and to seek expert business advice. Our team at Duncan & Toplis can point business owners in the right direction and help them to make the right decisions, finding the best investment that will take their business forward.