Countdown to Brexit: James Stewart, Head of Brexit at KPMG UK

James Stewart

With the countdown to Brexit quickly ticking away, Business Link Magazine invites a select number of the region’s business leaders to offer their thoughts.

Here James Stewart, Head of Brexit at KPMG UK shares his thoughts.

“We’ve seen some pretty intense client activity around Brexit over the last few weeks as smaller businesses scramble to get their no-deal plans in place and larger businesses continue to activate their Brexit strategies.

“However, there is still a long tail of businesses that haven’t done nearly enough, including many businesses who haven’t even spoken to their employees about what lies ahead. Even more worrisome are the few remaining very big businesses that have done next to nothing.

“At this point we think every firm needs to think about the basics, such as currency hedges, working capital modelling and inventory. Talking to your bank and reviewing your service level agreements is also a good idea.  Businesses then need to consider their more peripheral risks – the surprises lurking in the detail of contracts, what your supply chain counterparties are doing, or not doing, and whether you’ll have ‘non returners’ amongst your EU workforce after Christmas.

“For these reasons January is going to be an uncomfortable month for many companies. Those who have failed to prepare are quickly going to discover that warehousing is coming at a premium, application processes for things like Authorised Operator Status are cumbersome, and creating new financial entities takes time.

“Ultimately Brexit preparation will be a differentiator, there will be winners and losers in every sector. This will reflect different fact patterns but also varying levels of preparedness. For example some of our clients are putting war-rooms together, making crisis management plans and stress testing their business preparedness.”