“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
The Financial Times on 15 April 2016 stated that three-quarters of the UK’s FTSE 250 companies have not yet discussed contingency planning for a possible British exit from the EU. Equally, I fear smaller businesses have not considered this either.
Ian Peters, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors, said “While Brexit may constitute a strategic risk for organisations, uncertainty about the process, the timing and the consequences might make contingency planning challenging at the moment.”
For some businesses, a wait and see approach to the possibilities of a Brexit may not be a bad thing – that is if it has no relevance to them. However, a ‘leave’ vote could have an enormous impact on any business dependent on continued direct or indirect trade with the EU and possibly beyond.
In my opinion, businesses must understand the possible risks following a Brexit by identifying the consequences for them that may arise from this course of action. These risks should include anything that can result in any uncertainty potentially causing damage to the business, in which case a plan should be drawn up to prevent or at least limit the loss.
Although the UK Government will have two years to renegotiate its terms of trading and other relevant matters with the EU, inevitably a vacuum and a period of uncertainty will be left. Dealing with this uncertainty will be a different challenge altogether.
Therefore, judgement must be used to identify the risks and plan how to manage them, taking full advantage of any perceived opportunities. The risks should be prioritised by their impact, classifying them as either unlikely, possible, likely or fairly certain.
Any business that has not made any or not enough contingency arrangements by the referendum date should not be surprised by the effects that a ‘leave’ vote could have on their business. Preparation in this case cannot be overemphasised.