Corporate finance: what to expect in 2021


David Petrie, head of corporate finance at ICAEW, reviews an unprecedented year and takes a look at what we might expect in 2021.

It has of course been an incredibly difficult year for many people around the world. COVID-19 has had an extraordinary impact on mortality, public health, education and employment. The pandemic has also had a huge impact on businesses. Some will not recover, others have prospered.

For corporate finance advisors and investors, completing some M&A transactions has been very difficult. Over the past nine months, I have had many online “meetings” with many faculty members and heard about the awesome effort and ingenuity they need to make deals. The pandemic and life-saving measures are clearly far from over – although, as of this writing in late November, the news about potential vaccines is much better.

Expert advice

The efforts of business advisers for many of their clients will be focused on leveraging new investments to support recovery and future growth – and negotiate beyond the crisis. Evaluating forecasts and projections, and ensuring that business plans are strong and resilient with all risks taken into account, will prove essential. Then, as always, there will be the opportunity to consider the role that successful mergers and acquisitions can play in these plans.

Another area of ​​interest has been to protect the livelihoods and well-being of their own employees working in corporate finance, investment and business. At the faculty, many of our operational activities took place online. In September, we held our board meeting by videoconference – a first. Almost all of our technical and public policy work with government departments and regulators has also gone online.

New Themes

Over the summer, the faculty launched three new themes: Global Investment and M&A; Innovation and sustainable recovery; and future consulting professionals. I designed the themes with my fellow professors Shaun Beaney and Katerina Joannou to be the focus of our work over the next two years, including Corporate Financial magazine. We will continue to provide new technical guidance to faculty members and to ICAEW in general. Our work will be both political and practical, and will continue to examine the measures needed to help businesses navigate this crisis.


Earlier this year I met with Alok Sharma, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, officials from the UK Treasury, the Bank of England and the British Business Bank , to discuss government emergency funding for businesses. Most recently, I participated in a conference call with Ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Lord Grimstone on the National Security and Investment Bill, and testified orally before the parliamentary committee on this legislation in November.

The faculty always ensures that the interests of members are represented when it comes to commenting on and influencing regulations that will affect corporate financiers. At the end of 2020, the Brexit transition period in the UK is coming to an end. Rules on the provision of financial services and corporate finance work will be an important part of future business relationships. As always, our goal is to ensure that regulatory changes support sustainable corporate finance activity. When faculty respond to formal consultations, the devil often lurks in the details – and in spotting the potential unintended consequences of new or revised regulations. A number of important measures are planned for 2021.

The faculty will continue to react and respond to these changes, drawing on the considerable expertise of its many member firms and its technical committee, chaired by Deloitte partner, Yvette Allen. The faculty’s publications and events program – online and face-to-face – for 2021 includes the fourth edition of Private Equity Demystified, written by John Gilligan and the late Professor Mike Wright, along with guidelines on best practices on public-to-private transactions (forthcoming with PwC and Travers Smith) and environmental, social and governance in mergers and acquisitions (forthcoming with WSP).

Renew your membership in the Faculty of Corporate Finance

Stay connected to the Faculty of Corporate Finance and renew your membership. Individual corporate finance faculty members can now renew their membership online. We are the largest network of professionals involved in corporate finance. Together, we are the voice of the industry, including chartered accountants and others involved in advice, investment and business.

How to renew

Finally, I would like to pass on my best wishes to the faculty members and their families for the holiday season and the New Year.


Comments are closed.