Ahead of the EU referendum on 23 June, a panel of business leaders met today to launch a report detailing the top 30 questions asked by SMEs and the respective answers of the official Remain and Leave campaigns.
The UK200Group, the UK’s leading membership association of quality-assured independent chartered accountancy and law firms, compiled the questions in order to address a lack of clarity about how remaining or leaving the EU would affect the small business community.
The briefing, which took place this afternoon at the offices of Seven Investment Management, was chaired by futurologist and author Dr James Bellini, who spent 25 years in the broadcasting industry presenting programmes such as The Money Programme, Newsnight and Panorama, and as a studio presenter with Financial Times Television and Sky News.
Dr Bellini was joined by a panel of business leaders, including Seven Investment Management’s Justin Urquhart Stewart, Co-Founder and Head of Corporate Development, a renowned market commentator who launched Seven Investment Management with a group of colleagues in 2001.
Justin said, “There is one word that runs any economy – and that is confidence.
“We need confidence so that – consumers buy “stuff”, confidence so that companies invest in capacity and innovation and we need confidence so that overseas investors keep buying our debt to finance our deficit.
“Any wobble in confidence will easily unnerve that confidence, and that could frighten consumers, companies and investors into holding back. Such nerves could increase the cost and potentially lose much of the potential financial benefit that many have hoped for.
“Whatever your views, the effect of this vote is fundamental to the successful functioning of the UK economy.
“Our politicians are playing with fire – and whatever the outcome some of them will suffer the consequences. They may be fired with enthusiasm, but we will end up firing many of them – and with even more enthusiasm.
“We at 7IM have a great weight of responsibility to our investing clients, and regard this as possibly the most important issue we have had to address for them.”
The UK200Group was represented by some of its most senior members, including its President, James Abbott. James founded Abbott Moore LLP in 2012 – an accountancy firm based in Bedfordshire.
Peter Duff, Partner at Morisons LLP in Glasgow and a member of the Executive Board of the UK200Group, is an expert in business law and brought a uniquely Scottish viewpoint to the discussion.
Debra Dougal of Haslers Accountants also joined the panel. Debra has great experience of VAT consultancy, especially with regard to the property and construction industries.
James Abbott said, “One of the main themes that came out of the discussion today is that many of our business clients are putting off making big decisions or investments until after the EU referendum. Whichever way the country votes, it has affected business confidence and I hope we can return to normality as soon as possible after June 23.
“I’m confident that our discussion, and certainly the document that we produced, have provided a degree of clarity to small business owners throughout the UK.
“The 30 questions from SMEs address areas of concern such as agriculture, business growth, charity and education, healthcare, high net worth individuals, international issues, law, regulation, quality assurance and sports, and we look forward to receiving feedback from these industries.”