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How you can support your Brexit-hit clients

25th Feb 2019
Torn Map Of Europe
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Every client is different and the impact of Brexit on any particular company or individual could be anything from negligible to threatening imminent closure.

For some, it may be the best thing that has happened in years, since rivals could be put out of business or new opportunities arise as a direct consequence of what might be a very abrupt departure from the European Union.

For example, relocation specialists are likely to find business booming as clients move significant parts of their operations from Britain to mainland Europe (or Ireland).

Others may rely on just-in-time importation to make small profits and, if Dover and Calais become lorry parks, that might tip them over the edge.

Most are likely to find themselves somewhere between these two extremes, probably facing additional costs, possibly losing some members of staff and addressing difficulties resulting from clients/customers who have their own operations disrupted.

Wherever they might fit on this scale, it has to be almost certain that your clients will be grateful for any support that their highly valued professional adviser is able to offer. In some cases, this might amount to nothing more than the knowledge that you are on call when required.

Other clients may give you a very large and lucrative project – perhaps in connection with reorganisation or restructuring to take into account new circumstances.

In the longer term, there could be changes to tax laws, with VAT seeming a hot favourite, and auditing and accounting rules may also be subject to review. The negative financial impact of change could also lead to significant tax hikes, which will not be good news for anybody.

This means that you and your staff will need to keep up to speed on change but, as a quid pro quo, you should be able to develop new business from existing clients and possibly create niches to tempt new ones to come on board.

In the short-term, it might well be beneficial to develop a policy where you or colleagues ensure that a call or meeting is arranged in the very near future with a representative of every single corporate client and some of your more influential private clients as well.

This will help your organisation to understand the potential needs that will arise when Britain leaves Europe. Scope out additional projects and, in a worst-case scenario, identify those where it might be a good idea to get your credit controllers on the case before it is too late.

In cases where you believe that clients will face any major change as a result of the decision to leave Europe, there is still no harm in contacting them, although clearly it makes sense to leave such calls until after speaking to those who are going to be at the sharp end.

In terms of the conversations themselves, it may go against the grain but try asking open questions and listening. “What is Brexit going to mean for your business?” might be a good starting point.

You can then talk about any specific issues of which you are aware, for example staffing, financing, regulation and cross-border transactions.

As with everything else in what is becoming an increasingly messy and argumentative time, any clients that have operations on either side of the Irish border will almost certainly need particular help and attention.

Replies (11)

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By Kieran Burns
26th Feb 2019 10:19

I think Philip's analysis is very good. From a client perspective the uncertainty that is being caused by the political inertia at Westminister, is the biggest problem. This is causing paralysis as businesses do not have the confidence to make decisions. The best thing for accountants in practice to do, is to try to help them with how best to cope with the "most likely" scenarios.

Kieran Burns

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By Donald MacKenzie
26th Feb 2019 10:37

How unusual to see a Brexit apocalypse column. NOT.
We have known about Brexit since 2016 yet business has NOT reacted with horror. Employment, a good indicator of business confidence, is up. Output is growing faster than in Germany or France.
The business world despises the politicians and journalists who are trying to thwart the democratic vote and somehow stay in. We see the EU and its Euro creating economic disaster in Spain, Greece and elsewhere.
We are better off out.

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Replying to Donald MacKenzie:
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By accountantccole
26th Feb 2019 12:32

Donald MacKenzie wrote:

The business world despises the politicians and journalists who are trying to thwart the democratic vote and somehow stay in.

Are you sure? BCC and other groups who are set up to represent businesses don't support this view

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Replying to Donald MacKenzie:
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By Jdopus
27th Feb 2019 14:39

You must be living in an absolute fantasy land. I've had meetings with close to a dozen clients this week who are having their businesses directly [***] up by Brexit on how to deal with the fallout and have so far set up 3 Irish limited companies this week alone for people who have decided to move their profitable small businesses across the border to avoid the problems caused by this.

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Replying to Jdopus:
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By johnjenkins
28th Feb 2019 08:56

It's not Brexit that's ***ing up business. It's the arrogant EU Commission and our lacklustre politicians that are destroying confidence.

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By johnjenkins
26th Feb 2019 11:46

Unfortunately our politicians (if you can call them that) are running around like headless chickens. Why? The facts are simple. We voted to come out of the EU. We don't need a deal. That will come when European business want to do business with us, which I'm sure they do. So let's get rid of the EU commission, who haven't got a clue just a single mind to control, and get on with the job of trade, tourism and swopping information on terrorists and criminals.

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By Kieran Burns
26th Feb 2019 14:17

Hi All

As and accountant based in Ireland, I think that there is a deep divide on whether Britain will be better off or worse off after leaving the EU.

However those who simplify the situation and describe Brexit as a political and economic divorce oversimplify the matter. The UK and Europe have been linked together for almost 50 years, and the interdependence is so deep , they are like siamese twins, with one wanting to be seperated while the other would prefer the status quo.

The problems arise because no mater how good the surgeon is there will be scars on both sides, and how do you split a heart and a brain equally between the two twins.

The economic climate is going to get more turbulent in both the UK and Europe and the job of the accountant, is to try to figure out the best operational and strategic plan to manage the transition.

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Replying to Kieran Burns:
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By johnjenkins
26th Feb 2019 15:07

I love how the Irish use logic, especially in their jokes (I'm not saying your post is a joke).
The UK will be no different on leaving the EU. The EU has lost its way with the blinkered move to a federal country. The PEOPLE of Europe do not want this. A lot of politicians do. Therein lies the problem, politicians not doing what the electorate want them to do, because politicians think they know best. There is no reason for a deep divide, in fact I believe, without this push for Federalism, Europe (including the UK) will become stronger, because it will be concentrating on the important things not ideological nonsense.

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By johnjenkins
27th Feb 2019 08:58

Et tu Theresa. The ides of march are upon us.

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By Knight Rider
08th Mar 2019 13:59

Another article conflating Europe with the EU. The Uk is leaving the EU not Europe. Whether you think this is a good idea depends on if you are:
1. A business protected by worldwide competition by the EU's external tariffs;or
2. An individual having to pay more for food,cars and clothes because of tariffs used to fund an unelected unaccountable elite.
Once we have left imports from the EU will be treated like imports from anywhere else given that the EU has refused to agree future trading arrangements. How the EU treat imports from the UK is a matter for them.
There is no certainty in business but it would be helpful if the EU would agree to talk about trading with as few restrictions as possible. They won't because the EU is an isolationist political project not an outward looking free trading zone.

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By johncox
23rd Mar 2019 08:37

Thank you for sharing this beautiful information. here I would like to say business client. the main thing is responsibility and time management. your analysis is great ever i have seen that. thank you for sharing with us. antimalware service executable

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