As we continue to meet biannually, now in person, we will continue to update this page with the latest global and regional trends coming out of our Alliance discussions.
On 31 October – 1 November 2022 Inogen Alliance held its biannual Associate meeting hosted by Antea Group USA in San Francisco, California. It was energizing and inspirational to hear from so many global colleagues across the Alliance. Our time back together once again emphasized the importance of in-person meetings. The Alliance’s core values and working model rely on these opportunities to renew and rejuvenate our friendships and partnerships across our trusted network. At this event we had 25 countries represented with a wide diversity of technical expertise.
Our vibrant discussions culminated in a number of key themes including the dichotomy of global trends and current economic positions; the focus on digitalization, climate resilience and ESG; the scarcity of talent and talent retention; and the return to traditional EHS and compliance as more companies return to workplaces or are learning how to manage hybrid work environments.
We would like to take this opportunity to share key messages coming from our diverse leadership across the world. We’ll focus on local and regional perspectives on the current business environments across our global network, as well as a few key insights we are hearing from multinational clients. Overall, there a resounding acknowledgement that building a safer, cleaner and sustainable world will require more industry collaboration, a change in behavior on new evaluation systems, digitalization, and new skills in engineering our future.
Christian Plas, Managing Director of denkstatt, stated “We need to rebuild the world focusing on energy, mobility and fossil resources to create a more sustainable future. We, as consultants, are a part of this - but with collaboration across industry, governments and across borders.”
“Inogen Alliance is building the foundation for sustainable change using our global expertise and influence where we can contribute to our collective future. We demonstrate daily our eagerness and ability to dip into a new future. One that requires innovation and forward thinking in the current dynamic business environment. We need to understand how the world is shifting and moving outside our own backyards to understand the larger implications and respond to changing trends,” Angelique Dickson, President of Inogen Alliance.
Below are some of the insights shared by our global Associate Leaders and Managing Directors:
UK (Alex Ferguson, Managing Director, Lucion Group / Delta Simons)
There are a number of challenges in the UK economy, with inflation around 11%, the energy crisis, uncertainty in politics with the new Prime Minister and Cabinet, the ongoing unresolved challenges of the Brexit deal, and the economy now in recession. This translates to less business deals happening with associated reduction in due diligence work for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and real estate due diligence. For many years the London Stock Exchange has been the leading stock exchange in Europe, but it may not be anymore. One of the key trends they see is the deals flow with M&A moving potentially to other European cities.
“We recognize the instability in our economy but it remains a key location particularly for North American and Asian investors and we continue to see a focus on ESG in due diligence. This provides an opportunity to continue to support and grow our client base and a focus for how we move forward.” Alex Ferguson, Delta-Simons, UK offers a positive view on how we can provide value and assistance to our clients during these challenging times.
EU (Christoph Olk, Vice President, HPC; and Jan Parys, CEO, Antea Group Belgium)
Across Europe there are varied perceptions but, overall, we heard a theme of a “dark cloud” hanging over many countries. In Belgium, inflation is at the highest it’s been since the 1970’s, which is having an effect on the economy. A specific law in Belgium requires that wages and inflation are tied – so if inflation goes up a certain percent (11% currently), employers also have to raise wages the same percent to match by law.
More investing overall has moved out of Europe and over to Asia - in the chemical and automotive sectors specifically. We depend on energy so much and there are enormous costs, with businesses having to spend 2.2 billion euros more in the last five months. Some will stay in Europe due to the price of transport. Companies in China are also not always stable with energy and environmental issues. L&G are looking for new harbors in Europe, and are starting to change going west to east where it has traditionally been east to west. The war is speeding up some of the energy development. Budget meetings are impacted with this dark outlook.
Across ten countries, Associate HPC reported a lot of the same “dark cloud,” but with some more positives. ESG topics have been trending with companies thanks to the new Blue Deal and Green Deal and EU investments and governments are creating more jobs and investments. Energy prices are going down with a warmer fall. Local experience with larger collaboration is important, and it’s important to have an optimistic view.
Brazil / South America (Hilton Lucio, CEO, Antea Group Brazil)
As we sat in our meetings, our colleagues were intently watching the presidential elections in Brazil, and we have a new president.
The economy in Brazil is changing with more business moving west in the country with farming and industry. It’s a different culture and environment there to learn to do business across these large regions. Sustainability and water projects have been on the rise.
“We can communicate in a very material way what the impacts are going to be with science-based targets and translating this data to real stories and impacts – people will invest and will protect themselves. The better we can translate this into business, and the more we anticipate future operation conditions, the more likely they will invest in effective solutions,” Hilton Lucio, Antea Group Brazil discusses how companies are starting to address more climate-related topics that have not before invested in them.
Other struggles in the region include inflation across Latin America, which is making exchange rates against USD and Western currencies more difficult. Businesses are also struggling with hiring and finding employees, especially those who can speak English for multinational clients.
India (Subba Rao NV, CEO Chola Risk)
Inflation in India seems to be more under control at around 6% with the government regulations and there are more investments and projects happening with this optimistic view. Many businesses are announcing new projects.
The public is bringing more environmental issues to the forefront with businesses who have polluted in the past, creating more environmental expertise needs across the country. Environmental remediation is just beginning; right now many in India have not approached this. Digitalization is also important in India across businesses as an emerging opportunity, along with innovative uses such as predictive models for accidents. Within companies there is a lot of turnover of employees – employees used to stay with companies and now new hires coming in don’t expect to stay forever, which is a new mentality in India.
Singapore (Andrew Young, Group Director, ESC)
Southeast Asia lies between China and India, two of the worlds most populous countries which are driving some change in the region. China is flexing its muscles creating anxiety in the region and initiating arguments around boundaries which is leading to more cohesion within ASEAN and the need for integration of its constituent countries. In Singapore, we are seeing an influx of rich migrants from China and Hong Kong, relocating due to the strict COVID regulations. Whilst a free trade agreement with India is leading to the same outcome and a movement of people and money into Singapore. There has been a massive growth in family offices and private equity firms as these monied individuals park their assets in Singapore. This money is flowing into private equity and greener investments in the region, particularly renewable energy.
Growth and opportunities in the region align with the energy transition. We’re seeing an increase in green investments from financial institutions, project development companies, utilities, manufacturing, tech sectors, and more. There has been huge progress made with renewable energy with numerous schemes to generate renewable energy in one country and export to another – a good example is the worlds largest solar farm in Australia being linked via a 4,500Km power cable to Singapore, and other schemes linking hydro power from Malaysia to Singapore, as well as wind farm developments in Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines. Renewable energy is booming in the region – encouraging regional integration with grids integrating across countries. However, they also have labor issues with many people looking to hire and trying to retain employees. Overall, the overlook is optimistic.
Egypt (Amr Abdel-Aziz, President, Integral Consult)
Our Associate, Integral, in Egypt just made it to our Associate meeting ahead of going back to attend COP27 in Egypt. In the last few years, there has been growth in business as more and more companies pay attention to climate change - especially with COP27 just wrapping up in Egypt recently. It has boosted the market of climate change in the region. They have helped government agencies here in preparing for this. ESG is a global trend and there are local opportunities in the region. Remote work and hybrid models have become more regular with businesses. Energy transition is growing – switching to renewable energy or decreasing usage. Many are looking at energy transition topics and there is a huge initiative led by Saudi Arabia in the (Middle East green initiatives) with a lot of opportunity in the future – biodiversity, clean energy, and more.
Canada (Jennifer O’Grady, President, Terrapex)
In Canada there have been labor market challenges in a few ways similar to the US, but Canada is calling it the great resignation with the baby boomer generation retiring now after the pandemic. Our government has historically relied heavily on immigration to fuel population growth, and that went downhill during the pandemic. They tried to fix it by changing the criteria you had to meet to be accepted as a Canadian immigrant; however they didn’t have the staff to process applications, so there is a huge backlog.
There is general consensus that a recession is coming and the overinflated real estate market in Western Canada and Southern Ontario is finally slowing due to inflation. Generally we’re fortunate in Canada in that we’re not directly affected by geopolitical instability or war as other regions have been experiencing. The energy sector in Canada has of course been positively affected by increased oil prices. However some oil and gas companies are not using their windfalls to invest in decarbonization; instead they’re spending it on share buy-backs. There is also renewed interest in LNG production on the west coast, with the focus being on smaller plants which can be built more quickly to start exporting fuel to take advantage of this window of opportunity.
USA (Brian Ricketts, CEO, Antea Group USA)
In the USA, more multinational companies are looking at ESG requirements along with Energy Transition. ESG in some cases can be discretionary in the US; but if you look at the multinationals, a lot have operations in Europe where there are more requirements in this regard. Most multinationals are not going to plan/operate different ESG strategies in different regions, so we can expect to see more multinationals operate from a common ESG platform in the future.
“In these uncertain times, some companies won’t know what they should do or where they should go on their ESG journey in 2023, so they won’t do anything, and they’ll just stand still for a period of time. We can provide value to our multinational clients with our global view and guidance on what’s to come. Long term, the EHS&S industry outlook is very favorable, especially when you factor in Energy Transition and ESG. Our industry’s growth and profitability, along with being somewhat recession-proof, have caught the attention of private equity which continues to invest in buying firms as they long-term opportunity in the EHS&S market” Brian Ricketts, CEO Antea Group USA.
Before the Federal Reserve will begin to ease interest rates, it will take more massive layoffs and an increase in the unemployment rate. Right now, it’s still a very good job market; but when you look at the technology segment, some have stopped hiring and are making changes with personnel and programmatic spending.
Multinational organizations want to be prepared for what’s to come vs having to be reactive, as we all were unprepared for the pandemic. The c-suite is more concerned now about business and climate resilience and what’s next. As a global Alliance, we are in a good position to advise our clients for what’s coming, to scan the horizon and help organizations be resilient and prepare for the future. Our next challenge awaits, and we are already working on the ingredients and ideas to build our collective bridge to our more sustainable future. Our global teams are embedded in organizations around the world, using their expertise to focus on a resilient future.
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