Andrew Gray, chair of PwC’s Brexit Steering Committee shares what he has learned from conversations with clients on Brexit preparations and why he thinks now is the time to act.
With one year to go until the end of the Article 50 negotiating period there is naturally increasing discussion on “readiness” for new trading and border arrangements between the UK and the EU both in government and business.
In my role as Brexit Leader for PwC, I’m meeting many of our clients across the UK, who are working in different sectors. Outside of heavily regulated sectors, such as Financial Services and pharmaceuticals, there is a recurrent theme in my discussions. Regardless of the impact on them, the exact nature of our future relationship with the EU and the timetable for external change feels too uncertain for businesses to make internal changes now.
There is, of course, some truth to this. The full details of our future relationship with the EU may not be known for some years. However, as my colleague Michael Moore shared last week, our analysis of the potential scenarios for that future relationship, taking into account all “red lines” drawn on both sides, indicates that there are fewer variables now than there may seem. Moreover, there are some changes that are now, on balance, more likely than not, whatever happens next. As my colleague Michael Moore set out on Thursday last week, time is short, and the chance to benefit from first-mover advantage will soon have passed.
Each day for the next week we will explore a different area that we believe all organisations should be considering now to lay the groundwork for their future trading beyond Brexit, and share our eight “no regrets” decisions all businesses should consider now:
My own personal recommendation, is that now is the time to plan to be agile - whilst there is inherent uncertainty in the political environment, and still many unknowns regarding our future relationship with the EU, businesses can prepare now to respond to new developments, as they occur. Forming a dedicated governance body accountable for understanding what different future scenarios will mean for your organisation, who are tracking external events and identifying the ‘triggers’ for action, will help you remain agile and quickly mitigate risks and impacts as they materialise, as well as taking advantage of the opportunities that arise too.
My own personal experience supporting clients in the Financial Services sector indicates that appointing an executive level ‘head of Brexit’ - or single person with accountability for Brexit planning and preparations - and establishing a Steering Committee with good representation from across the business are the two first steps that set organisations on a pathway to robust planning and responsiveness to events as they unfold. However a recent survey of some of our key clients suggested that many companies have not yet taken this important step.
Watch this space over the next 5 days to hear from my colleagues across the firm on their own suggested actions you can take now. I’ll be discussing these themes as well as other Brexit developments with some of our leading experts on our next Beyond Brexit webcast. Subscribe now to join us.
Partner, PwC United Kingdom
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