Spotlight Series: Katie Lam
Amid all the unknowns surrounding Brexit, one thing is certain: whatever happens with regard to the EU trading passport, the Capital Markets Union and the effect on Foreign Direct Investment, it will force a re-examination of your business practices and structure.
The more you can do to prepare for a swift reaction to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the better placed you’ll be to put the uncertainty behind you and start capitalising on the new opportunities that the change in trading structure will inevitably throw up.
How Brexit will affect the regulation of financial markets was one of the chief debating issues. The assumption that Brexit will result in more relaxed regulations in the UK as EU red tape no longer applies may well prove false. In an article published in June by Scott Lavery, Research Fellow at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, he reports that, ‘Rather than seeking to secure the “lightest” regulatory environment after Brexit, financial actors often place a premium on the stability and predictability associated with their “tough” national regulators.’
In other words, with so much uncertainty surrounding Brexit, investors are likely to want more regulation not less. Either way, the regulatory landscape is likely to change, requiring efficient technological operating systems to minimise the extra complexity and cost involved.
One way in which companies are seeking to mitigate against the possible fallout of Brexit is by moving offices to one of the remaining EU27 countries, or at least opening a subsidiary ‘PO Box’ company within the EU, while continuing to make administrative decisions from London.
While London is still expected to retain its status as the leading European financial hub, this movement is feeding the ambitions of other financial centres, such as Paris and Frankfurt. As businesses relocate and expand, the IT requirement to connect offices and operations, as well as managing the diverse compliance regulations, will increase. Start planning now.
The free movement of goods, services and people across customs borders is a major sticking point in the Brexit negotiations, with the Chequers deal seeking to maintain a customs union for a few years until the technology is ready to take its place.
However the customs-tariffs are negotiated, it will affect the transfer of commodities through the ports, as well as the movement of talent. The companies that get ahead will be those with the systems and technologies in place to manage the added complexity to supply chain compliance and human resource management.
The economic argument in favour of Brexit, of course, is that it will free UK companies to do new deals globally, exploring new territories and opening up new opportunities. This could be fantastic but, compared to the safety net of the EU, it will mean an added degree of exposure to potential bad actors.
Companies will need to make sure they’re not blundering into the unknown with their eyes closed and their defences down. Do you have systems in place to detect suspicious trading activity, for example? Traders would be well advised to add a real-time fraud protection software solution to their IT suite in readiness for expanding into new markets.
To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld’s famous statement about uncertainty, we know there are things we don’t know about Brexit but we don’t know whether there are things we don’t know we don’t know – the unknown unknowns. The likelihood is that there are. Lots of them.
And one thing we do know is that businesses trading in the financial markets can’t afford to kick their heels waiting to see how the negotiations pan out. You need to have your systems in place – compliance, supply chain management, communications, human resources, security and so on – so that when the deadline comes round and the transition period begins, you’re ready to move immediately in the direction of maximum opportunity.
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