2017 – Opportunity, Not Uncertainty
So, 2017 has arrived with a bang. I sincerely hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a great start to 2017, but now it really is time to get down to business.
2016 saw some big surprises – the biggest two being the Brexit vote and the Trump win. On June 24th and November 9th respectively, I’m sure there were many people who woke up, saw the news and thought – "Wow, what now?", regardless of which way they voted. 2016 was the year the public decided the status quo wasn’t good enough, threw caution to the wind and the baby out with the bathwater. Here in the UK, we’ve been feeling the repercussions of the potential for a LEAVE vote since the beginning of 2016 but really, how much of a difference has it made to many of us, so far?
Uncertainty. That’s the key word we keep hearing and the media is doing a fantastic job of keeping the feeling of uncertainty alive and well. The value of the pound sterling plummeted – a very real and serious concern for any business that trades overseas. That said, in other areas this proved a boon, making it far cheaper for foreign companies to buy from British manufacturers. However, given the reaction to the Brexit vote amongst our clients, I strongly suspect that The feeling of uncertainty is having far less reaching repercussions than the media would like us to believe. This is, of course, the same media that predicted aeroplanes falling out of the sky and the entire power grid collapsing as a result of Y2K.Whilst we all have a quiet and somewhat uncomfortable feeling about Brexit, it’s most centred around the not knowing.
Some of the uncertainty has been alleviated. Whilst there have been mixed reactions to Theresa May’s recent Brexit speech, it has at least showed determination and resolve. We still have no idea as to the nuts and bolts of shape Brexit will take, we do now at least have a firm commitment from the Prime Minister that the UK will be taking no prisoners. It would be unreasonable for us to expect her to lay down the road map for Brexit. The PM herself stated during one of her first PMQs that telling Europe the Brexit plan was not the way to get the best deal for the UK. I doubt any of us would argue with that position.
Trump – America’s 45th President. There’s no doubt things will change under Trump – he has a corporate background, and as corporations wield the power, he’ll have all the backing he needs to have legislation passed through the various cogs of power (all of which are now coloured Republican). Will it affect the UK? Undoubtedly. Will it affect SME’s in Britain? In the main, unlikely. Most of us will simply be left scratching our heads as to how, precisely, that all came about. A general feeling of ‘why would you do that!?’
Concerning Brexit, at Quorum People, we did notice a shift when it came to hiring. Companies, concerned as to what the next few months might bring, moved away from offering permanent positions and instead, focused on bringing in staff in a temporary capacity to alleviate immediate requirements. However, the trend is shifting once more to permanent placements. The on-going issue is skills shortages, the lack of young blood coming up through the ranks to take over important aspects of finance and accounting. Brexit cannot be held liable for that rot which took root many years ago, and which we are all now attempting to cure.
One of Britain’s defining characteristics is the ‘get on with it’ attitude, preferably over a cup of tea and usually with a rousing song. Once we know the terms of the Brexit deal, business will simply roll up its collective sleeve and make the most of every opportunity. In that respect, nothing has changed, even if the world around us is unrecognisable by comparison with twelve months ago. For 2017 our message is simply this: Keep Calm and Carry On. We’re here to help you with the business of doing business.