Whilst the end of 2017 has seen some signs of the possibility of a Brexit deal for the UK, it still looks like 2018 will very much be more of the same with uncertainty amongst the business community having a negative impact on economic growth, investment decisions and business performance.
With around 15 months to go before we in theory leave the EU, business leaders will no doubt be keen to see increased vision and leadership from the government around the debate and negotiations for any trade agreement with the EU post Brexit.
Certainly businesses will be looking for comparable or more favourable trading terms and arrangement than those that exist now, with hopefully the provision of transition arrangements so that the impact of changes can be considered and catered for as part of business planning activity.
No doubt business member organisations such as the IoD, FSB and Chamber of Commerce will be lobbying government for expediency and clarity around trade negotiations and that any agreement reached is truly business friendly and is good for the economy. Too much procrastination could have serious impact on business performance at a time when we have seen a slowdown in economic growth.
Perhaps the biggest challenge that businesses will face over the next 12 months is around productivity. Certainly rising costs, a shortage of skills and labour, along with a highly competitive market, are placing pressures on revenue and profits. The focus in the board room and for those running a business will need to be on improving productivity whether it’s through changes in working practices, skills and workforce training or investment in new processes. The more bold and courageous might look at more meaningful strategic transformation and change. Few it must be said are likely to be in a position to carry on with business as usual. Perhaps Christmas may see a spike in the sales of books focusing on thought leadership, change management and doing things differently.
Looking to our professional world as accountants, tax and business advisers we envisage that we will be kept busy working with our clients, supporting them with their businesses and meeting the challenges they face whether it is cutting through the red tape or providing commercial acumen around the business decisions they seek to make. Ensuring we are au fait with any new legislation, tax or otherwise, which may affect our clients, not least in a post Brexit UK, will certainly be high on our to do list, along with the need to ensure our clients are aware of and prepared for the introduction of Making Tax Digital in 2019.
With a growing number of our clients trading and engaged in business overseas we are looking forward to launching and developing a new association of leading international accountancy firms. This new association is able to support clients with ‘in country’ tax and financial advice not only in our key trading areas such as the EU, but also throughout Asia the US and other parts of the globe.
Back in the UK, we are excited about the continued development of our specialisms in both traditional market sectors including property and education, but also in emerging markets including the digital and technology sector along with those engaged in media and entertainment.