Mason Alexander Brexit Sentiment 2019
83% of senior Irish business professionals support the Irish Government’s firm position on Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement.
In a time of uncertainty, the one clear message from Mason Alexander’s Brexit Sentiment survey is that business professionals are backing the government’s strong stance. The survey was conducted in the week from August 16th to 23rd, a time when the UK Prime Minister took his first overseas visit to the German and French capitals. Over 250 professionals took part in the survey, with 40% of these being C-Suite professionals; ranging from a multitude of sectors such as Financial Services, Technology, FMCG and Manufacturing.
38% of respondents came from large enterprises of 500+ employees, while 37% came from small businesses of 0-50 employees. Almost half, 49%, of respondents work in Irish Owned and Managed businesses, with 30% coming from Irish subsidiaries of global businesses.
Opinion is very much split on the outcome of Brexit come 31 October 2019.
35% believe there will be a further extension of some sort, while 32.5% believe there will be a Modified Deal or a Political Declaration will be made. Equally, 32.5% believe there will be a Hard Brexit.
Opportunities & Outlook
46% of respondents believe that Brexit will present no new opportunities for their business and when unsure/don’t knows are excluded, this rises to 53%. Indeed, this is equally reflected when asked if their businesses are actively looking to new markets, 54% said no. For the remainder, 34% of respondents are focused on EU markets with Germany being the most popular EU country for new opportunities, followed closely by France and the Benelux region. Only 6% are looking to the US market.
For those who import goods from the UK, 66% have already soured or are actively sourcing new suppliers outside of the UK in a clear sign that the potential impact on UK businesses who are exporters could be hugely significant when this is extrapolated across the EU.
When asked if they believe that Brexit will ultimately benefit Ireland, 56% said no and 18% said unsure/don’t know. When the unsures are excluded, those that don’t believe Brexit will ultimately benefit Ireland rises to 68%.
On the positives, 78% (excluding unsures) believe that there will be no job losses in their organisation in a no-deal Brexit scenario – a significant vote of confidence from senior professionals in the stability and viability of their businesses in the face of Brexit.
55% also believe that their businesses are adequately prepared for a no-deal Brexit. There are however 23% that say that they don’t believe their company to be adequately prepared and the remaining 22% are unsure or don’t know.
When asked what they believed the single biggest challenge facing their business is, the resounding response was all to do with UNCERTAINTY. There are many unanswered questions facing businesses and many simple, everyday scenarios that need practical and solid answers. There were 5 primary drivers behind uncertainty as a response:
- Investment decisions – being paused or put on hold until there is greater clarity
- Regulatory and legal environment – in particular in a no-deal scenario
- Access to UK market – free movement of people in particular
- Supply chain sourcing and efficiency – free movement of goods and customs requirements
- Costing time – investment in planning and resources to prepare for various scenarios
On the back of continued economic growth, the CSO this week released the strongest ever employment data, including the highest ever employment of foreign nationals. Irish business is diversifying and preparing for what may lie ahead but even Irish business leaders are divided on what will ultimately happen come October 31st.
As Brexit continues to dominate the political and business agenda, we must remember that a no-deal Brexit could still be detrimental to substantial areas of our economy.
However, it is clear from the survey results that senior business professionals are preparing for the worst case. They are clearly very supportive of the Government’s firm position on the already negotiated Withdrawal Agreement but above all else, they are looking for certainty; something which the negotiated deal that is already there would bring.
At Mason Alexander, one thing we’re certain about when it comes to Brexit is that there is much more to come and we’ll be following every step.