Thursday 23 June was a landmark occasion. The UK’s electorate took part in the European Union (EU) Referendum to decide the future fate of our membership within that Union, an institution of which we’ve been an essential element since the early 1970s. Collectively, the nation voted for Brexit, in turn creating a spiral of significant upcoming change.
The period of undoubted upheaval thrust upon us will result in disruption. From the perspectives of business continuity, risk mitigation and crisis management, the ‘Leave’ vote is merely underpinning what many practising professionals have always asserted. If there’s an identified threat looming large somewhere on the horizon, it’s a pretty good idea to have a fulsome contingency plan in place specifically designed to deal with it.
Writing an excellent blog for the Business Continuity Institute (BCI), Charlie Maclean-Bristol FBCI – director of PlanB Consulting – hits the nail squarely on the head. “If you haven’t already done so, sound advice would suggest that a risk assessment examining your company’s potential exposure to Brexit ought to be conducted. Focus intently on all scenarios: worse case, best case and ‘that which is most likely’.” In this way, reasons Maclean-Bristol, the development of appropriate risk mitigation measures will be a far more straightforward process.
According to Maclean-Bristol, the next logical step would be to concentrate on the company’s business model. Ask of yourself some key questions. “Is the firm’s model going to be dependent upon access to the EU’s Common Market, as it is at the moment? Given that the UK – and London in particular – is a major financial hub, how might alterations to the ongoing status of our financial institutions affect your organisation?”
Importantly, have you mapped your supply chain exposure to Europe? At some point on the road ahead, there’s the distinct possibility of World Trade Organisation tariffs coming into effect. If that should happen, does your company fully understand what these are, and what the impact would – or could – be around additional cost for the business model? On that note, Maclean-Bristol comments: “As there may not be free movement of goods, this could delay the delivery of goods/parts to the UK” (so too the conveyancing of your company’s own solutions and services to its European customer base).
Further, our Government might stipulate that all personal data be located within the UK rather than the EU. If data must be domicile on home shores then this could lead to an increase in the fiscal outlay for hosting services as demand heightens. Increase the readily available supply will inevitably take time.
“How many EU staff does your company employ?” posits Maclean-Bristol. “What might their status be if we leave the ‘free movement of people’ regime adopted by the EU? Might they have to relocate to their country of origin.” The fervent hope is that this outcome will not transpire, but Maclean-Bristol is again spot on in suggesting it would be prudent to plan for such a risk.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron has observed that we’ve chosen to open the parachute. We cannot climb back into the pilot’s seat. Now, we have no choice but to embrace change and tackle any – and all – opportunities this ‘Brave New World’ engenders.