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Brexit: A blessing or a curse for accountants?

08 July 2019. Published by Matthew Watson, Associate

A recent survey has indicated that the accountancy profession is well placed to accommodate the uncertainties surrounding Brexit.

A survey carried out of 100 accountancy firms highlighted that 45% of firms planned on offering more advisory services to assist clients dealing with impact of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

 

The survey revealed that many accountants have seen a noticeable increase in the number of clients approaching them for advice surrounding the potential risks resulting from Brexit. The Managing Director of the company (Wolters Kluwer) conducting the survey noted, "while there continue to be uncertainties, Brexit offers many opportunities for accountants."

 

Those firms surveyed identified the impact upon the customs, excise and VAT procedures as being their key concern regarding the UK's withdrawal from Europe. The survey also showed that accountancy firms consider that technology will be the most important aspect to ensure that clients are able to deal with the impact of Brexit.

 

The Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) has also recently commented on the potential detrimental impact leaving the EU may have on the UK's economy. Last month, Mr Manuzi (regional director for Europe of the ICAEW) told the Brexit Select committee that, "it is likely we may well see after November 1 a flurry of profit warnings from companies finding themselves in completely unprecedented circumstances." If this is the case the accountancy profession is likely to be kept busy in the autumn of this year. Those accountants involved in the auditing of companies' accounts are also likely to be keeping a close eye on the impact caused by Brexit upon their client's accounts.

 

As noted in our previous update the outcome of Brexit will also have an impact on those auditors of UK PLCs with a presence in Ireland. Earlier this year Ireland’s accounting watchdog is understood to have written to the largest audit firms in the UK encouraging them to prepare for a “no-deal” Brexit. Notably, the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority has made clear that a hard Brexit will result in UK audit firms becoming classed as “third country” auditors in Ireland. As a result these firms will have to register with the Irish authorities to continue the auditing of Irish companies. The ICAEW's update on the position at the end of May this year noted that nature of the eligibility requirement for UK audit firms in Ireland after Brexit remains unclear.

 

It will have to be seen whether the impact of Brexit is a curse or blessing for the accountancy profession. However, what is easier to predict is that accountants are likely to be kept busy in the run up to 31 October with clients seeking to prepare for the unknown.