How to be prepared for post-Brexit international opportunity and avoid headaches

Posted on 30 July 2019 by IRIS FMP

There’s just a few more months left of us living in a pre-Brexit world (we think for real this time!), as the UK is nearing its final deadline to leave the EU – October 31st. Whilst there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding exactly how its exit will pan out, one thing is for sure; change is afoot.

One of the key differences will be how UK businesses will trade with the rest of the world. Currently, the EU is their largest trading partner, representing £289 billion in 2018, and it’s currently equivalent to 44% of all UK exports and 53% of imports. However, in a post-Brexit world this is set to change.

A new report by Western Union, entitled the H1 FX Barometer Report surveyed 1,000 participants comprised of businesses of all sizes and sectors and found that almost 50% of SMEs would rather do business with the US after Brexit. Similarly, a quarter of the companies surveyed revealed that they are planning to reduce their trade with Europe over the next few years. The most popular countries they would like to trade with after Brexit are the United States, China, Canada, India and Japan.

Businesses need to be ready for this. If EU business is about to become less attractive, it is vital that companies start thinking about the implications of expansions. If you’ve only ever done business in Europe or indeed, the UK, there has never been a better time to start thinking about going global and what this will entail.

Expansion is not a simple process, and mistakes can be expensive and compromise your legal standpoint. Things to consider include onboarding and recruitment, employee benefits, laws and legislation in your new country, incentives, benefits and HR management. No two countries are the same, so you will need expert advice and in-country advisors to help you to build your global strategy from the get-go. This will help you to consider both the small nuances and the bigger picture in terms of challenges you may face.

Once you have established the bones of your global expansion, you must consider what will be the most important thing from the perspective of your employees: paying them. Overseeing payroll in another country may sound simple on the surface, but in actuality dealing with different languages, different legislation and different currencies makes it at best difficult, and at worst unmanageable. Expert advice will give peace of mind to you and your international employees.

Our suggestion to any business that thinks that their trading activity may change in our fast-approaching post-Brexit world, is that they should start thinking about where they might like to explore next. Don’t go into these crucial decisions alone.

Useful resources:
– The Government’s Exporting Is Great resource, whereby you can “explore the potential of exporting with guidance, services and support from the Department for International Trade” as well as finding relevant suppliers to help.
– Guidance on help you can get to grow your business overseas from Innovate UK


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