Legal services firms are likely to see a flurry of activity following the Brexit vote as businesses and private clients seek to understand what it may mean for them and how they should plan for the future. Other professional services firms may not experience any immediate impacts, but they could face new challenges over the longer term.
Staffing in professional services firms has evolved as business has become more global, with many firms operating in the UK now employing people from around the world. It is not yet known how this pattern will be affected in the future, but risks could emerge if the UK is seen on the global stage as a less attractive place to work.
UK-headquartered firms with a global footprint may also need to review how they trade going forward and whether the global structures they have in place are still fit for purpose. It is likely that changes will also be made to tax legislation, although it may be several years before we know what this might look like.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Brexit on professional service firms is whether it results in an oversupply of resource. We are a country with a very strong professional services sector, a significant proportion of which is supplied to businesses outside of the UK. Will those businesses, particularly those in the EU of the future, still want to buy from us? Only time will tell.
For now, management needs to provide stability and reassurance for client bases and internal workforces. People will naturally be concerned about how the Brexit vote will affect them and will want to see strong leadership.
However, with every challenge comes an opportunity. Firms that review their position early and revisit their strategy to fit the new situation could find they have a long and sustainable future. Management must now keep a very close eye on how matters evolve over the coming months and react quickly to drive change where it is needed.
If you would like to discuss how Brexit could affect your business, please contact Rowan Williams.