There’s something about the terrific new look to this web site that brings to mind fresh beginnings. An updated look-and-feel is, on the face of it, purely cosmetic – some clever new code and good-looking graphics. But it also suggests something much more important: investment, care and intent by, and for, the underlying business. And those are things that all of us can usefully apply personally, professionally – and in our businesses and markets.

The summer holidays are also a marker for new beginnings, of course. So let’s look at those different dimensions and see where we might apply a bit of metaphorical new code while we recharge during the dog days of August.

The national scene is not a great place to begin again. Brexit is in a permanent state of false start, and far from heralding a new beginning, all the signs point to a prolonged period of stagnation and looking backwards.

It’s not inevitable, however. Given that the politicians are in disarray and the experts are being ignored, it’s up to businesses and individuals to make the situation work. For FDs, that means investing in people (especially your nervous non-Brit employees; but also in training) – and scenario planning the heck out of the possible outcomes. Those range from repeal of Art.50 to hard Brexit – so it's not an easy job. But it’s one that can't be in the hands of PR people or political zealots of either stripe. Every business will benefits from those projects being done by disciplined, evidence-loving execs. You. 

So what about businesses? If you’re fed up with hearing about disruption and innovation, you’re in good company. They rank alongside 'millennials', 'customer experience' and 'digital transformation' as the inescapable (and mostly empty) buzzwords of our day. And each one promises its own reinvention of your job – usually alongside a peppering of hype about articifical intelligence and a dire warning from someone trying to sell you a solution to the problem.

The problem is that there’s a grain of truth in all this. Beginnings are now the new normal – whether that’s in the shape of  cloud services changing your approach to IT or upstart challenger brands that compete partly through reckless abandon and private equity cash. Solution? Finance folk already know: it’s sceptical embrace of the new. No FD worth their salt goes “all in” on a new tech or business model. Test, trial, hedge, analyse… and stay close to what you know adds value.

Finally, the personal. All the change in international and national politics, different industries and markets, business practices and technology – this all creates undeniable opportunities to reassess and re-evaluate our own roles, responsibilities and careers.

This is certainly not a siren song for ditching your job and rushing into some disruptive start-up. (Although if you did fancy a change, you’re at the right web site to find an exciting new opportunity…)

But I’m reminded of what a CFO-turned-CEO of a FTSE 100 company said to me nearly 20 years ago, when he moved from financial services to energy: “It’s great being the naïve new guy. You get to spend six months posing all the dumb questions that no-one’s asked for 20 years. And the answers often force people to confront problems and habits that have been holding the business back.”

So that’s the final advice on new beginnings. Think like a naïve new FD or FC and ask questions of your business that might actually sound old, but need new answers. Only by dropping old assumptions and prejudices can we hope to start something genuinely fresh and creative.

But have a great summer break first!