Shortage of Brexit expertise to hit UK business

Accounting firms have the largest number of Brexit experts currently available, but a shortage of consultants means UK companies are likely to struggle to adapt once the UK leaves the EU next March, according to a report from Source Global Research

The management consulting industry specialist found that less than 1% of the consultants (328 in total) from the top 20 UK firms by revenue are dedicated Brexit specialists. 

Fiona Czerniawska, director of Source Global Research, said: ‘The shortage of Brexit specialists is not just an issue for those consulting firms in danger of missing out on an opportunity; the bigger issue is for UK businesses in general. Most large organisations only have the resources needed to deal with their existing workload, and therefore rely on consultants to deal with the unexpected.

‘Without consultants with the right expertise to support them, there is a real danger that UK companies will struggle to address the complex and wide-ranging challenges of Brexit.’

The research indicated the majority (85%) of Brexit specialists in the UK’s consulting industry work at accounting firms, largely because firms have undertaken recruitment drives to bolster expertise in critical areas such as regulatory compliance and international trade. Of the Big Four, Source found that EY and KPMG are most strongly positioned for Brexit-related work, with the largest proportion of Brexit specialists.

However, the report warns that even they will not be able to meet the expected volume of demand—particularly from the financial services sector.

Czerniawska said: ‘Despite doing relatively more than other types of firms, accounting firms could be working harder to develop dedicated Brexit specialists who understand not only this topic but how it interacts with other issues clients are facing. Doing so will increase the chances of firms getting a seat at the table when senior executive conversations about how to respond to the impact of Brexit are going on, which will place them front of mind for future initiatives.

‘Such an opportunity is too big to miss. The critical success factor here is being able to advise clients on the impact of Brexit in the broader context of their industry and providing unique insights.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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