June 24th, 2016
4.30am – 7.30am:

Wide awake. Mind racing with the various possible permutations of Brexit; Business, Social and Personal.

How will brexit affect business?

7.31 am:

‘Gareth, amongst the chaos of today’s other news, do you have time to speak today regarding some follow up work for X (an ongoing market research project)’ .

The one line email above, from a valued ED client, came through on my device at exactly the right time. It reminded me that, regardless of the maelstrom of uncertainty which awaited me at my desk this morning, the first thing to concentrate on is my clients; continuing to deliver the best possible service to them in a responsive and adaptable way.

Over the last few months, when a conversation with a senior lawyer has turned to Brexit, a key concern has often been that that the senior bandwidth of all manner of businesses would be taken up by answering the question ‘what to do now?’, rather than the normal focus of running the business. As Insurance companies seek to fully understand the implications of Brexit on their capital requirements under Solvency II, IP rich Pharmaceutical/Tech companies readdress their take on the UPC, and bankers in Hong Kong consider the short term threat to APAC ECM from a change in global trading patterns (just to suggest a cross section of challenges!), other central business issues are put on the back-burner. This trickles down through every facet of the organisation and as each individual business slows down, the inter-business and finance matrices drop a gear to keep pace.

Brexit is an additional challenge

There are very real and immediate structural and regulatory challenges associated with Brexit, these should be prioritised and need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Importantly, however, senior management teams should not allow this to pull them off centre. Brexit poses a big challenge but it is an additional challenge, not the only challenge. Edward Drummond & Co is a small business in the grand scheme of things, with a simple range of services and a straightforward delivery model, as such the recalibration for me this morning was probably easier than it will be for the more complex business we service (and that our clients service in turn). However, the businesses which are able to most efficiently deal with these issues, whilst continuing to run operations as smoothly as possible and focus on growth, will be best placed to succeed.

The key, perhaps, is to worry about the right things in the right proportions, and not to worry too much. In the words of Mark Twain ‘Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it’. (Easier said than done, Mark, but useful counsel nonetheless).