Is Brexit keeping you up at night?

By Daniel Lanyon on Monday 24 July 2017

Alternative Lending

Business leaders are most concerned with prioritising trade in Brexit negotiations over access to EU workers.

Business leaders are most concerned with prioritising trade in Brexit negotiations over access to EU workers.   

·An uncertain economic environment is troubling entrepreneurs owing to the on-going Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the European union. More specifically, lack of clarity over trading arrangements is the largest concern, trumping worries over EU staffing issues.

At least that is the suggestion from research undertaken by fintech invoice funder MarketInvoice, who conducted a survey of UK businesses seeking their views on Brexit, the role of Government and finance.

The current uncertain economic environment is what’s keeping more than half (53 per cent) of UK business leaders worrisome. They are less worried about the stability of the Government (15 per cent), foreign worker rights (8 per cent) or weak sterling (1 per cent).

A slender majority of 54 per cent, not dissimilar to the referendum result of 52 per cent, of businesses reported that their hiring plans have been largely unaffected this year and it is business as usual. Only 2 per cent are now proactively reducing their exposure to EU-nationals in the coming months while more (6 per cent) are now reluctant to hire EU nationals. 

The top priority (58 per cent) for UK business leaders as part of the Brexit negotiations is to have the right trade arrangements with the EU to ensure a stable trading environment. This is three times more important than having access to EU workers, with only 18% raising this as a priority. Meanwhile, only 7% prioritised the stability of sterling.

More business leaders (85 per cent) now believe that the Government is tuned into the voice of business since March 2017, when Article 50 was triggered. However, they are not confident or convinced that the negotiating team will defend the interests of business. A quarter (27 per cent) feel they’ve lost their way and will be in for a shock and a further quarter (27%) feel they lack preparedness for the negotiations. Only 5 per cent feel that David Davis is doing a great job. 

Anil Stocker, co-founder and chief executive officer of MarketInvoice suggested business leaders are focussing on general business issues ahead of worrying about staffing issues.

“Anecdotal feedback from this survey is that businesses in the UK are getting on with it but are clearly unsettled which doesn’t make for a healthy business environment. The good news is that businesses, finally, feel that their voices are being heard by Government but are not inspired with confidence with the negotiating efforts,” he said

More than a third of businesses (38 per cent), however, feel they will face a cash squeeze going into the next 6 months. More than a third said they would turn to invoice finance (35 per cent) over bank overdrafts (30 per cent) for additional funding whilst only 6 per cent would use a personal credit card

Stocker added: “While hiring concerns are relatively stable for business, they need to be focussed on managing their working capital needs in H2 2017. The research shows that a third (34 per cent) will forfeit expansion plans, a further third (33 per cent) will forgo launching new products and a fifth (20 per cent) will reduce marketing spend. These are things that will impact the wider economy and could make for tough decisions for business leaders”.

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