It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone that the UK voted last Thursday to leave the EU. The resulting political turmoil and press hysteria says more about politicians than it does about finance, economics or law. And in the tsunami of opinion and speculation about what will happen next, it is hard to spot the words that should reassure.
Regardless of which way you voted, we now have to accept and adapt. You and your business have been adapting to change constantly; this is another change, albeit a heavy duty one.
Over the last few days clients have asked us many questions. Should we hold back pay increases/employment decisions? Should we avoid capital expenditure? Should we liquidate investments, consider down-sizing, back out of acquisitions, and so on? Our answer is always the same: why? Use the same careful judgements you would always use, and do not be panicked by the media. Brexit is just one more factor to consider. As yet, we have no facts, only speculation, so any action you take will only be gambling. Some people will get lucky and read the future well, others will not, as with everything. We have clients who see this as an opportunity to invest – but that too is a gamble. We do not encourage inactivity, but more than ever, we should all look before we leap.
It is worth remembering that Brexit has not actually resulted in any changes in our structure at this time and changes should happen gradually. And it may never happen. Although financial markets have suffered, they have recovered from worse in the past.
We would urge you not to make snap decisions, and not to be distressed by 24/7 media whose job is to report and speculate. You should, however do all you can to render your business as adaptable as possible. In uncertain times, hedge your bets. Property prices could fall (or rise, or stay flat, no-one knows). A fall may cause issues for borrowers and so, knowing there will be some economic changes ahead, we should avoid decisions that will over-stretch gearing. On the other hand, we would not recommend taking any decision that could weaken or retrench your business. Businesses should strengthen international relationships, so that overseas business partners know you remain open for business as usual.
Our message is simple: humans fear change, but change will present new opportunities as well as challenges. Change happens, it always does, and those who adapt best are the most successful. As events unfold, we will keep you informed, and your contacts at Hillier Hopkins will always be delighted to hear from you and discuss any issues as they arise.
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