No-one (or almost no-one) ever said Brexit was going to be easy, although I suspect that few would have anticipated last June after the Leave vote just how many twists and turns there would be. And I dare say there will be many more to come. Since that vote, there has been an endless, and at times overwhelming, series of press articles and other commentaries analysing the politics and legal niceties of Brexit. But rather than regurgitate that legal/political analysis, we decided that we would be better informed by listening to our clients and other market influencers.
And what did we learn from that? Undoubtedly the uncertainties arising from Brexit have put a strain on business, with some preparing for both a hard and a soft Brexit. Generally (but not universally) business sentiment has been negative. Since the General Election in June, perhaps with the prospect of a more pragmatic rather than dogmatic approach, there has been a greater feeling that business will be given a degree more attention when the Government sets its priorities for the negotiations. And while the weakened pound may be a boon for those who export, there are many others who are finding that their supply chain relies on imported goods somewhere along the line and so margins are being squeezed by the rising cost of materials. That, coupled with the possible reduction in the UK’s migrant workforce, has put a strain on many companies’ appetite to invest and expand.
But Scottish - and UK - businesses are resilient. They have lived through uncertainty before and will do so again. For some, it will be a case of battening down the hatches until we get to the other side of Brexit. Some will need to re-evaluate how (and possibly where) they structure their operations. And for others Brexit will undoubtedly bring opportunities.
And that’s what we want to focus on. Specifically what is happening in Brexit and how it is likely to impact on our clients and the wider business community. There is a long way to go yet before negotiations are at an end and almost certainly the final deal will look quite different to what is currently on the table. So, over the coming months we will share with you our thoughts on the changing Brexit dynamic and in particular what it means for business, what you should be doing in response and what opportunities there may be.