Planning for Brexit

British ducks for British people
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Philip Fisher
Columnist
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This article comes from Edinburgh, where I'm making my annual pilgrimage, but rather than regaling readers with show suggestions after only a couple of days it seemed more appropriate to address a serious threat to the profession that should be worrying us all.

Suddenly, the departure from the European Union is months away rather than years. Even so, unless any of you have more information than is readily apparent from the media, nobody has a clue about what the consequences are likely to be either in the very short-term or in years to come.

There could be anarchy, there could be a financial bonanza or, quite possibly, nobody will notice the difference at least for a while.

My question today is what firms are doing to ready themselves for an event that could be the biggest change in living memory.

Staff could disappear, clients go under, while tax law could change significantly before too long and auditing regulations may also follow suit. The economy may also be in for a significant jolt with interest and exchange rates going mad.

In other words, every aspect of our businesses might be affected to a degree within a year from now, and much more significantly within two to three.

If you happen to be based in Northern Ireland, the consequences could be even more extreme.

While I have no doubt that there are many discussions going on behind-the-scenes at larger firms, it would not surprise me to discover that partners in most smaller practices have done little more planning than to buy a shovel with which to dig up some sand to bury their heads.

Perhaps the best way forward is to ignore Brexit completely and hope that it goes away or happens without our noticing. However, Bernard Jenkin's millennium bug analogy has caused much controversy, not to mention a great deal of derision.

At the other end of the scale, it would be possible to come up with the equivalent to a nuclear bomb shelter at the end of the garden, providing protection that may never be necessary and could also be the source of much laughter from your neighbours.

This article is really exploratory since it seems likely that many readers will be desperate to get tips from any of their peers who have already addressed this matter in a thorough and detailed fashion and have the answers to any of the questions raised or maybe even all of them.

About Philip Fisher

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By DJKL
08th Aug 2018 15:20

Get Costco card and use for purchases of bulk toilet rolls, tinned food and dried food. Will pack up practice of accountancy and use my study as the new store room.

Reapply for my shotgun certificate (I let it lapse years ago) and then see if my late father's ex business partner, whom my dad's shotgun was passed on to, has any actual use for it or will give it back to me; given his somewhat scathing comments of it as being more appropriate as a bit of replacement pipework for a plumber and further comments as to how on earth my father ever hit anything with it I suspect whilst he may have it in his gun cupboard it rarely gets an outing.

Arrange to book a ferry crossing to Sweden next Easter rather than flights- given Edinburgh schools finish on the 5th April I want to ensure I can get away with the car rather than being sat here with all the grounded flights- given lorries backed up at the ports will likely do Newcastle/Imujden and leave plenty of time for traffic delays.

Transfer two year's housekeeping to our Swedish bank account- given the way exchange rate has been twitching maybe I should actually do that later this year

Rewatch Survivors (original series) DVD box set as training.

Regret not buying this property:-

https://www.scotsman.com/property/cold-war-bunker-sale-scottish-borders/

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to DJKL
08th Aug 2018 15:49

Sensible stuff. That a cliff edge Brexit will be a massive problem there is no doubt. The question is how massive a problem it will be and it would only be sensible to assume the worst.

Expect full blown panic buying of non-perishable food etc. if there is no solution in sight by this Xmas (a country is only 3 (or according to M15 4) meals away from anarchy I think the saying goes).

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By DJKL
to Justin Bryant
08th Aug 2018 17:05

I should also have mentioned the changes I have already made in the investment focus of my SIPP ( omitted as in the main these are already done-couple of ITs ,still to consider encashment) and the general, without impacting lifestyle, diversification away from UK based assets and earnings.

The other major plans are ensuring one child gets married to his US citizen girlfriend ( not sure either of them are actually that keen on the idea, but so what, needs must, "it is a far far better thing I do" etc and finding a EU/ROW spouse for my daughter.

The final plan is seeing if my MIL will apply for Irish citizenship (She had Irish grandparents )so my wife can then get same (Irish mother-not sure this really works), not that we will move to Ireland (possible frying pan to fire) but it will let us disappear to Sweden.

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to Justin Bryant
09th Aug 2018 11:49

Trouble with anarchists is that for some reason they aren't great at organising things!

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09th Aug 2018 10:31

I'm quadrupling the number of vegetable plots in my garden and investigating herbal remedies for the medical conditions I currently need drags for.

The Profession? Probably "Inert till react", it's served it well for a century or two.

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09th Aug 2018 11:30

Already shut my UK practice and moved to France!
(working for another UK practice here) I'd rather the French tax man has my taxes than fund the Brexit insanity

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By Locutus
09th Aug 2018 11:50

What am I planning for Brexit?

Probably sitting in a pub in my home town, with several Brexit-voting friends and (if he dares to come out) another good Remainer friend.

Conveniently, Brexit takes effect at 11pm on Friday 29 March and we can have a New-Year style count-down just before the pub closes.

Deal or no deal, the world will keep spinning. There was life before the EEC/EU and there will be life after it.

How will it affect the profession? Probably not much initially. Of the three things you refer to:

- Staff from the EU won't disappear as there have, quite rightly, never been any plans to deport anyone.
- VAT and other taxes will initially be as they are now. VAT will probably diverge over time.
- I doubt whether "taking back control" of auditing standards is high on anyone's list of things to change, so the status quo will continue for some time.

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10th Aug 2018 10:03

Looking forward to it immensely! I’m sure life will go on in some shape or form....

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10th Aug 2018 11:05

I think, as accountants, we are used to dealing with change - virtually none of it makes our lives easier - at least not at first. So I'll start planning for it when I know what it looks like. With MTD and the private sector IR35 roll-out coming up, we already have enough on our plates to worry about.

Churchill said 'keep buggering on'. What else can one do?

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10th Aug 2018 14:34

Brexit is going to affect everyone but there isn't a great deal any one of us can do about it. Two weeks after Brexit (if current timetable is maintained) is MTD which proportionally will have a much bigger impact on accountants and is something we can plan for and hopefully can still influence. Thus most of us are concentrating on MTD and not Brexit.

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By ShayaG
to kevinringer
10th Aug 2018 16:33

What happens to clients selling goods to EU? What about clients importing goods?

I suspect you are focussing on MTD because the magnitude and scope of what is fast approaching is quite unlike anything we have ever seen before in our lifetime.

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By ShayaG
10th Aug 2018 16:12

Regarding VAT, I suspect that the EU will impose vat (and import duty) on all UK goods at the border.

I'm certainly stockpiling food, as prices will rocket.

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11th Aug 2018 22:17

Currently on holiday in the South of France where for the first time that I can remember food and fuel prices are higher than the UK.
It is a bit difficult to prescribe generic advice when the EU is so slow to set out the likely relationship after Brexit. Our clients and ourselves will all be effected in different ways. For the fascists and bullies in Brussels the political punishment for leaving will be more important than a successful economic arrangement post Brexit.
Perhaps the best advice is to explore opportunities within the UK and outside the EU until the outcome is clearer.

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to Knight Rider
11th Aug 2018 23:33

That’s OK our lot are bound to tell us what to expect after Brexit and we have bullies and fascists apleanty, after all they are the ones who got us into Brexcrement in the first place.

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to Paul Scholes
12th Aug 2018 23:03

Oh dear. More than 2 years into the post referendum boom with the stockmarket at record levels, unemployment at record lows, the budget deficit almost eliminated and growth picking up in Q2 the relentless pessimism of the remainer doomsayers continues.
The people have decided, a world of opportunity awaits and there is plenty to be optimistic about.

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By DJKL
to Knight Rider
15th Aug 2018 14:09

That is the world of opportunity on WTO terms until, after a few (5-15 say) years we sign up to all these wonderful FTAs with economies whose GDP per capita suggests may struggle to buy our products in bulk anyway.

And that is of course whilst awaiting the disentanglement of those regulatory processes that enable our goods to even be shipped cross border.

Sounds wonderful, I will appreciate it immensely in my retirement.

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to DJKL
16th Aug 2018 11:14

The EU will have some disentanglement to resolve to allow its goods to be shipped - can it be so difficult to come to an arrangement? No one wants trade to be compromised. The next 12 to 15 years will see a growth in wealth in many other countries as the moribund EU gets left behind.

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