Brexit: What the UK’s businesses should do next

The historic vote to leave the European Union has brought joy and despair in almost equal measure across the UK, along with a great deal of uncertainty for our businesses. Questions linger over access to the free market and Europe’s talent pool, while conclusive answers still seem some time away.

At Experian, we’ve been working with businesses in times of prosperity and uncertainty for many years. We understand this may be an unsettling period for businesses, and our message is simple – don’t panic. Now is not the time to make rash decisions about the future of your business, but instead to assess how the possible impacts of Brexit could affect your company, and then plan accordingly.

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It’s impossible to fully anticipate future effects of a Brexit, but there are things your business can keep an eye on now and in the near future:

  • Interest rates: Businesses will have watched Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s first speech after the referendum with interest. An increase from the current rate of 0.5% was widely forecast to be on the horizon. In light of the vote, Carney said some monetary policy easing would be likely over the summer, so the base rate could be reduced as early as next month. However, this doesn’t mean the cost of borrowing will fall; indeed it could rise as a reflection of the risk and uncertainty. Ramping up the Funding for Lending Scheme could be used as a tool to stimulate lending to SMEs.
  • Exchange rates: Sterling fell against a number of global currencies, including the US dollar and the Euro, in the days after the referendum. The weakening sterling could present an opportunity for exporters, who may find the prices of their goods in British pounds now compare favourably for their customers buying with US dollars. But if your company depends on imports, then it’s worth considering how a potential increase in prices could affect your trading margins. Manufacturers may find their production costs rise as the materials they import become more expensive.
  • Inflation: Should sterling continue to be weaker against foreign currencies, then the price of imported goods may rise. Consumers and businesses alike may first notice an increase at the petrol pumps, which could result in increased logistics costs being reflected in the end price of a product. At a time of uncertainty, economists’ predictions on the impact of a Brexit on inflation are split, but it would be prudent to consider how your business might adapt if prices were to rise in the next year.
  • Trading partners: Uncertainty can affect businesses in different ways and it’s important to remember that while one business might struggle in a changed environment, another could thrive. Consider how the circumstances of your trading partners could change in the future. Monitoring the financial situation at businesses you trade with, whether customers or suppliers, can help you to make more informed, accurate decisions in the years ahead.

Now is a good opportunity for businesses to take a clear look at their finances and understand how best they can prepare for the future, whatever challenges or opportunities may be created by political events. The UK’s businesses have a strong track record when it comes to turbulent times: we have seen an almost unabated growth in the business population over the last 25 years. Experian is committed to helping your company strengthen and adapt its position in the months and years ahead.