2020 in focus as Johnston Carmichael experts gaze into crystal ball

Founded in 1936, Johnston Carmichael has grown to become the largest independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
Founded in 1936, Johnston Carmichael has grown to become the largest independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
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Ethical investment is set to increase next year and social impact will be the key driver for charities and the third sector in Scotland, experts today predicted.

Releasing a string of business predictions for 2020, Johnston Carmichael, the firm of chartered accountants and business advisers, also forecast a greater focus on renewable energy projects and a trend for the big energy companies “to go greener”.

Craig Hendry, the firm’s head of wealth, said there was likely to be a greater emphasis on ethical investment during the year ahead.

“Environmental, social and corporate governance are three essential factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment,” he noted. “Whilst ethical investment has been around for a number of years, there is definitely more of a requirement to consider these factors when looking to invest.

“It is our belief that over the course of 2020 these discussions will become far more prevalent as individuals look to positively impact the environment.”

Jean Main, head of third sector at Johnston Carmichael, said social impact would become a key focus for charities and social enterprises.

She said: “Having a clear ‘20/20 vision’ for your charity in 2020 will help you succeed in making a positive difference during the year ahead and beyond. A new year provides an exciting opportunity for those operating in the charity sector to focus their strategies on meeting their charitable objectives and to identify and then report their valuable social impact.”

Ambition

On the renewable energy front, Mark Stewart, head of infrastructure and renewable energy, noted: “The push to be carbon neutral in the UK by 2050 and Scotland by 2045 continues to fuel the ambition, but what is really needed is political and economic certainty.

“We see pockets of innovation in areas such as hydrogen, bioenergy and waste recycling but nothing on the scale required to meet the targets.

“Offshore wind will be a major part of the jigsaw, and it was great to see commitment in this area with the Queen’s speech announcing a pledge to increase new offshore wind capacity to 40GW [gigawatts] by 2030, which should hopefully help to put the UK on track to deliver 75GW in offshore wind by 2050.”

Graham Alexander, head of oil & gas and corporate finance at the accountancy heavyweight, added: “Climate change and the target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2035 is having a significant impact on the energy sector, and that trend will continue for the foreseeable future.

“Those companies that can react quickly will benefit from first mover advantages,” he added.