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Stable messages matter more than ever in post-Brexit Britain

Chartered accountants will be expected to provide the financial leadership to the businesses that underpin the UK economy, projecting a message of stability once the UK has left the EU, says Croydon President Andrew McKenzie-Smart.

Andrew McKenzie-Smart

April 2019

This month I thought that I would link a number of events and themes together which I feel are important currently.

The theme is the ‘messages’ we send. As I write this, we have a government that has suffered a further heavy defeat in a significant parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal struck by the prime minister.

As part of my studies, I remember providing ‘PEST’ analyses regarding the scenarios presented to me. For UK companies there would be minimal areas of ‘political’ concern, with ‘economic’, ‘socio-cultural’ and ‘technological’ areas being of considerably greater importance.

I feel that this further calamitous vote, following the earlier one on 15 January 2019, and with the new political party formed, has sent a message to the world that the UK is now unstable politically. When subsequently the economics graduates across the world ultimately reside in leadership positions, as well as those who already do, they will inevitably be affected by the past two years of political uncertainty.

As accountants, tax advisers and investment professionals we have taken the country’s political stability for granted to some extent, and therefore the Brexit situation is particularly challenging for us when taking investment decisions regarding or advising UK businesses.

The impact of all the Brexit divisions over the past couple of years following the referendum means that we will have a considerable challenge to recover our former reputation for political stability.

I contrast this with the ‘message’ I witnessed at the opening of the Proms. Last year this remembered the sacrifice of those who fought in the First World War in a piece by Anna Meredith entitled ‘Five Telegrams’. This piece was considerably enhanced by visual images supplied by 59 Productions.

I suspect it is creative artists such as those involved in this piece, and the collective unity that the country experienced in the wars of the last century which will be needed going forward now given the messages we have sent to the world recently.

However, the difficulty is that messages and reputation are now amorphous, and the interactive nature of global communication with the internet makes a coherent message difficult to convey.

It is in this new global order, and after the resolution of the Brexit debate, that I suspect chartered accountants will be expected to provide the financial leadership to the businesses that underpin the UK economy.

Andrew McKenzie-Smart is President of ICAEW Chartered Accountants Croydon.

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