It has also slowed activity elsewhere. There continues to be low levels of merger and acquisition activity in the Irish marketplace, for example. This may change as more firms adopt the LLP structure but - for the time being, at least - M&A activity tends to be limited to UK firms seeking to enter the Irish marketplace or smaller deals focused on succession. Equally, enabling remote working has absorbed much of the technology capacity and priority, perhaps preventing larger-scale projects in other areas.
Concerns over Brexit have fallen down the list of priorities: only 30% of respondents to our survey ranked Brexit among the top three key issues facing the sector over the next three years, down from 43% last year. However, there are still fears. With talks still ongoing and no tangible progress on a trade deal at the time of writing, 60% of the Top 20 firms cited a no-trade-deal Brexit as a threat to levels of business in the long-term vs 47% in 2019.
As 2021 approaches, there remains considerable uncertainty about the future. Even with the impact of the pandemic diminishing, plenty of challenges remain – from Brexit to fee pressure. The pandemic has hit some firms particularly hard and may widen the gap between technology-enabled larger players and under-invested smaller practices. Be in no doubt: this is a precarious moment for the sector.