Brexit leads the agenda as Bank of England representative attends HWB business seminar
Preparing diligently for Brexit was the focus of discussion as Andrew Holder, regional Agent for the Bank of England Central Southern Region, joined a select group of business owners to gather views on key financial and economic issues facing firms in the South.
The event at Chilworth Manor, near Southampton, was organised by leading Hampshire-based accountancy practice HWB and attendees included organisations from a range of sectors, covering import and export, legal, machinery retail, property management, care homes, pharmaceuticals, shipping and insurance.
Mr Holder, who is the Bank of England’s Agent for Central Southern England, set out the Bank’s analysis of recent economic developments and the Monetary Policy Committee’s forecasts for economic growth and inflation. Mr Holder then heard from business about their priorities for the coming year.
Geoff Rhodes, Managing Director at HWB and a specialist in the transport industry, said: “We were delighted to welcome Andrew Holder to our seminar.
“With Brexit only six months away and especially with the uncertainty it brings, I think it is clear that businesses in the south need to start thinking about or continue preparing their contingency plan. This could involve buying additional stock now to avoid any possible border problems in March 2019, reviewing current nominal codes against the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) tariff analysis to see which products will be subject to duty changes, and to discuss these plans with EU suppliers or customers.
“Businesses are frustrated with the lack of information on what to expect from March onwards, but I would recommend that all businesses should have two plans in place in case of a no deal scenario.”
Productivity was also an area of discussion as businesses shared their successes and woes of recruiting the right people and retaining key staff.
HWB Director Michaela Johns added: “Productivity in the South is still not where it could be. However, because of the many contributing factors, it is still an area that is hard to measure accurately.
“The squeeze on living standards as a result of pay not keeping up with the inflation rise has certainly had an impact. Employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find good staff and retain them, with the main driving force behind job movement being salary increases at alternative employers, particularly at lower income levels.
“Business growth has also slowed since the recession 10 years ago and this has had an impact on the UK against the rest of the world in terms of return on capital.
“There are some positives, however. Since the big economic shock in 2008 consumer spending has remained remarkably buoyant – with the South in particular being resilient in the face of uncertainty. When the next shock occurs, although potentially damaging to business growth, we know we will take stock, look at our businesses and sharpen up once again.”
HWB holds regular events throughout the year on a variety of topics. The next seminars are:
- Motivation at Breakfast: Laugh, Learn and be inspired – Wednesday 7th November at 8am
- Technical update for FDs – Tuesday 26th February at 8am