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Countdown to Brexit – by Philip King FCICM

19 September 2019

I’d like to explain exactly what is going to happen over the next six weeks in relation to Brexit. I want to set out how businesses will be impacted from 31 October, how they can mitigate against any specific risks, and what UK government policy will be as we move towards the end of the year. Sadly, along with about 67 million others living in the UK, I can’t. We are in uncharted waters and the future, in many respects, seems to have never been so uncertain.

Thankfully though, dealing with uncertainty and helping their businesses survive when the unexpected happens is what credit professionals are good at. It’s what sets our profession apart from so many others.

The CICM has recently published a one-page checklist  for businesses, reminding them of the importance of really knowing their customers. When things go wrong in a business, in the economy, in the country, it’s often those further down the chain who suffer the most.

We may, unlike many, be fully prepared for every possible Brexit outcome and have comprehensive contingency measures in place, but all our good work can be derailed by others. A supplier that runs out of the raw materials it needs, a buyer whose biggest customer decides to buy from elsewhere so no longer needs our product, a supplier or buyer that doesn’t have enough cash to withstand unexpected consequences of market changes.

We need to ask questions of the businesses we work with, and to understand the position of the businesses they work with and so on down the line. And if those businesses aren’t as good, or as prepared, as we are then maybe we should share this guide with them.

As experienced credit professionals, we may be brilliant at dealing with uncertainty and helping our businesses survive when the unexpected happens. What about the rest, and how might their decisions (or lack of a plan) impact us?

 


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