'Let's Talk Business': Preparing for Change in 2019

As the date the UK is due to officially leave the EU approaches, it is vital that small and medium-sized businesses prepare themselves for a period of significant change in 2019.

This week UK Finance launched its Let's Talk Business campaign. This initiative calls for all businesses that have not yet done so to prepare not only for the potential changes brought about by the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union, but also for opportunities in their marketplaces.

This campaign, supported by leading business organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), emphasises that banks retain the capacity and commitment to support viable SMEs.

It encourages businesses across the UK to discuss any potential funding requirements with finance providers as early as possible.

As part of this campaign, UK Finance has launched its ?one-stop shop? online guide, featuring extensive guidance, contact points and details of the various support schemes and resources available for businesses.

The political landscape is continuing to shift rapidly, which leaves the final outcome unclear. Nonetheless there remain a number of important steps that businesses can and should be taking to mitigate the risks of a disruptive departure.

We are calling on all UK businesses to ?Talk?:

  • Take time to think about how your customers and suppliers could be affected by any upcoming changes, so you are prepared for the potential impact of these.
  • Ask your bank and finance provider, customers and suppliers early on if you think you might need additional finance, or changes in your current arrangements. The earlier you engage the easier. 
  • Look into alternative finance options. Most applications are successful, but if your first choice doesn't work out, there are many different providers out there. 
  • Know where to go for more information to help your business. Use relevant guidance to consider what plans you should be making and actions you should be taking.

While lenders stand ready to support viable businesses whatever the outcome, and those looking to access finance should feel confident about approaching their primary lender, it is important that businesses consider the diverse range of finance options available to them. Resources such as the British Business Bank's Finance Hub as well as the Better Business Finance website are useful tools.

From those businesses looking to export or import directly, to SMEs concerned about the potential repercussions late payment might have on their cash flow, it is crucial that businesses across every sector consider the wider impact that Brexit may have on their supply chains. It might be that additional finance is required, either in the form of an overdraft or a working capital loan, or alternative arrangements such as contacting an invoice finance provider.

Guidance from UK Finance was written in collaboration with business groups and professional bodies, including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Build UK. This advice is intended to sit alongside and complement existing sector specific information, links to which can be found throughout the guide.

This guidance will be updated on an ongoing basis and promoted to SMEs across the country by UK Finance and the business groups involved, as well as through regional events over the coming months. UK Finance and the business groups will also meet regularly to discuss how best to provide ongoing support and guidance to SMEs.

This information is intended as a starting point for businesses looking for assistance. UK government advice can be found here.

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