With the landmark EU referendum just days away, most could be forgiven for succumbing to curiosity on how different demographics will vote. For those that read the paper - or a news site - on a daily basis, it must feel as though you now have an understanding of exactly how every sector is predicted to vote.
From big corporates to SMEs, banks to fintech startups, manufacturers to manicurists, everybody seems to have their view on what the business environment might look like after the 23rd of this month.
But, with the referendum bringing such uncertainty and doubt, many have overlooked the effect it has already had on businesses. Capitalise decided to remedy this.
In conjunction with our accountancy partners, PKF, we created a survey to ask small business leaders about the effects Brexit has already had on their business.
Staggeringly, 40 percent admitted that Brexit has already impacted their investment decisions. Nearly a fifth indicated that they are already focussing less on business growth in Europe, while a further 15 percent reported that they have postponed entering into new business relationships.
Although it was always likely that confidence among SMEs would be shaken, our research shows the profound effect Brexit uncertainty has had on small business investment decisions. It’s far beyond what any commentator would possibly have predicted.
While a third of business leaders described their understanding of Brexit as high, one in six have contacted their accountant for advice on their financial position in the event of either outcome.
I’d suggest that this latter figure is substantially lower than it should be.
The uncertainty of Brexit puts a sharp lens on the changing remit of accountants working with SMEs. Far from simply crunching the numbers, many accountants now act as an extension to a small business’ finance team.
Why are so many SME leaders failing to draw on this professional counsel and expertise?
I think most don’t appreciate the range of services their accountant now offers, or simply don’t know how to get the most out of them.
Facing Brexit challenges, small businesses need to learn to make the most of the knowledge, counsel and assets available to them through their accountants. Only then will they overcome the uncertainty generated by landmark events such as this referendum.