The year ahead: Pat Doody, Director, Business and Commercial Banking at NatWest Bank

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Each year Lincolnshire Today Magazine invites a select panel of the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead. It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years. And, while none of us possess a crystal ball, it is uncanny how accurate some of these forecasts have been.

Here we catch up with Pat Doody, Director, Business and Commercial Banking at NatWest Bank, Lincolnshire.

Harold Wilson once famously quipped that a week is long time in politics. If so, 2019 will feel like a very long year, as the outlook is dominated by politics. Whether Brexit, protectionism or EU member states budget agreements, in 2019, financial markets and the economy will be shaped even more than usually by politics.

Although these ‘Big Macro’ themes will dominate, we shouldn’t overlook other, less obvious but perhaps more powerful forces. Demographic change and an ageing population will continue to reshape the consumer landscape. Older households will continue to acquire consumption capital, or the capacity to spend. They are the only cohort who have enjoyed a constant increase in their spending. And they, like all ages, are increasingly choosing to spend their money on experiences over things. We all spending more on holidays, leisure, eating out, sports and exercise, pets and recreation. Acquiring and sharing experiences and memories are the new goods.

Similarly, firms will continue to investing more in intellectual assets like Software, Data, Designs, R&D & Branding. Revenue and income will increasingly come from how we advise and consult, offering specialisms and targeted, knowledge-rich, support.

The East Midlands is well paced to harness this. Over the past few years the strongest growth areas have not been the richest, like Surrey.  It seems the new growth area is a new ‘golden triangle’, that stretches north from London to B’ham, then across to Bristol and back east to London. It captures Oxford, Cambridge, MK and Reading. But the East Midlands too. We should be prepared for a growing population and more knowledge based business and the high skilled specialists who work in them. They’ll be wanting to spend money too – just not necessarily on things (except housing of course).