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Through recession or secession, long termism is best for businesses

SO after a sleepless night for many, the result is in. Without even pausing to draw breath and reflect on the outcome of the referendum for Scottish independence, the discussion immediately turned to the ‘what next’. For some, there is bound to be some disappointment in the result. This was supposed to be day one of a new Scotland.

And in a sense it still is. Scotland, and the UK, is a changed place, and it’s now time to recalibrate a lasting, prosperous union. Whichever way the vote went this morning, Scotland would flourish, particularly if the passion of the last few weeks (on both sides of the debate) is harnessed.

Whether native or foreign, much of what attracted businesses to set up in Scotland still exists. An educated workforce, a culture that is open to new ideas and welcomes others, the spirit of entrepreneurship, the grit to fight when the chips are down and a world-class funding network. All of those things are still the backbone of business in Scotland, and will continue to develop within the Union.

Scott-Moncrieff, and our colleagues across the profession, have heard many contrasting points of view from our clients over the last few months and weeks. Some were adamant that they would be upping sticks and moving south today. Some were hedging their bets, and looking to open satellite operations abroad, or south of the Border. However, there were others that took the long term view – and it’s these companies that hold the key to future success.

Just a few years ago, when faced with a crisis of another making, some businesses resolutely believed in, and continued to invest in, their business and their people through a deep recession. The debate about secession has raised many concerns, but for businesses with this type of ‘dig in’ approach, the challenges that are still to come will not derail growth, innovation and success.

Of course, there are plenty of unknowns. Some of these questions have been answered by the result, but others not. Strong, decisive leadership is going to be vital as we look to get Scotland back on an even keel, and dust off our outward face again. Leadership from the corridors of political power of course, as the inevitable negotiations begin, but visible, solid leadership on the shop floor is also vital to build a robust economy.

Despite a solid majority for the No camp, there is still a way to go until we can create a convincing stability, and this after many turbulent years already endured. Change is coming, but businesses that maintain confidence, play the long game and remain steadfastly focused on their core values are likely to be the winners.

Scotland is a resilient nation and a great place to do business for us and our clients. None of that has changed overnight, even if some of the detail will.

Gareth Magee is a partner at Edinburgh-based accountants Scott-Moncrieff

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