SO, the dust has settled, and Britain (well – the 72.2% who could be bothered to vote) decided to leave the European Union. Now despite my frustration at the way society seems to be falling apart after the event, things now seem to have calmed down after a crazy week of resignations and allegations, and we are in a position where we need to consider how best to steady the ships – both our own and our clients, as we have an uncertain few months ahead.
The first of my three issues is an exercise in stating the obvious – we don’t know what will happen. The only thing we can hang our hat on is that there will be a new prime minister. Will there be a new chancellor? A new “Brexit Budget”? A snap General Election? A delay in filing under Article 50? A second referendum? Who knows. Our clients will be looking to us for answers, but we haven’t got crystal balls and should never pretend to know.
The second issue is the funding market. Lenders will naturally be rocked by Brexit, and there is a big risk that funds might not be as easily available as they were twelve months ago. Thankfully, we’ve all been here before. We know that banks are in the business of lending, and as such they will want to lend where it is a safe bet for them. A great opportunity for us to help our clients, playing devils advocate to their business plans and projections.
Clearly, international trade going forwards could prove problematic. At this stage, all I can recommend is communication, communication, communication. Despite how you may feel (after all, it was a very close battle, and I cannot presume either way), in general the Europeans that I deal with are very pro-EU, and dismayed that we voted for Brexit. I suspect, much in the way that the rest of the UK may feel if Scotland decided to vote for independence. Therefore, we not only need to approach the situation with international trading partners with tact, but also with some level of caution – given that we don’t know what’s happening, the chances of them knowing are far lower!
The above issues are only a handful of the vast range of issues that may crop up. In house arguments, fears of EU national workers… we’ve got a political minefield on our doorsteps. Keep calm, and carry on.
Carl Reader is a director of Wiltshire-based firm d&t, which won the 2013 British Accountancy Award for Independent Firm of the Year-Wales and South West England
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