Annual Review 2018 - Brexit and the growth agenda - KPMG United Kingdom
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Brexit and the
growth agenda

Brexit may have put a question mark over investment decisions, made it harder to recruit staff, challenged consumer confidence, and forced firms to rethink how they operate.

But for many of our clients it is just one of the risks they’re focused on. Geo-political instability, market volatility, the rising cost of credit, regulation, and a changing demographic landscape are all competing for boardroom attention.

In this climate of disruption, we have seen significant growth in our Brexit advisory work but have also taken every opportunity to stimulate a debate on the UK’s pathway to growth.

Big banks were the first to prepare for Brexit, followed by the pharmaceutical industry. With their licences to operate at risk, we saw a substantial burst of activity at the beginning of the year. In March, political (if not legal) agreement on a transition period offered many businesses some respite but it proved to be a false dawn. As hope of a quick deal receded, demand for our advice took off again. Manufacturing companies, typified by aerospace and automotive, were the next to mobilise around July. More recently and with time running out, corporates from other sectors have engaged in serious preparations.

Anyone who has spent time analysing the UK’s response to Brexit knows that we have to turn to thinking about growth. We have partnered with the UK’s leading policy-makers, regulators and clients on issues like productivity, industrial strategy and international trade.

Productivity is a key element of the UK’s future prosperity. Over the last year we’ve worked with external organisations to identify which policy responses will unlock greater shared wealth. We’ve also reported on why the UK underperforms on productivity and has such unbalanced regional results.

Expansion into overseas markets is a vital part of a successful growth strategy. This year we launched Going Global, a 60-page guide giving entrepreneurs, company boards and shareholders a comprehensive view of all of the key choices involved in establishing and maintaining an overseas footprint.

On industrial strategy we published the first of a series of reports examining what we see as the ripest opportunities for business and government. Our first report set out how the NHS can play a key role in securing the UK’s ambition to remain a world leader in artificial intelligence. We’ll follow this with reports on other key themes, including skills and productivity.

The year ahead is ripe for yet more disruption and we’re ready to help our clients adapt and grow.