If ever strategic planning for the longer term was needed, it is now as a consequence of the Brexit decision in June’s referendum.
Arguably the short term approach by directors, investors and lenders has been a feature of modern business life ever since the Thatcher era of the Big Bang computerisation of the stock market and the advent of free-floating currencies, as Andrew Marr suggests in his book A History of Modern Britain.
This short term approach is reinforced by the calls to “get on with it” that have been escalating both in the UK and from various parts of the EU.
Realism and patience
When the decision was made the world was never going to collapse nor was Britain going to enter into the darkest recession.
However, what we did do was communicate to all those who do business with Britain that the country will not be in the EU in the future regardless of the outcome of negotiations.
The adjustment of foreigner investor’s perceptions of Britain has already begun.
If Junker and the French have their way, we British will be taught a lesson that will translate into significant economic pain. However, it is also true that all those who are current investors in Britain will not withdraw their investments. Well, not overnight.
But anyone considering new investments with the objective of unfettered trade with the EU cannot now choose Britain, at least not until the trading terms have been agreed.
Those who are saying “it’s all going to be all right” are deluded and ignoring the monumental task needed to restore stability.
While the focus has been on a post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU, all our current trade agreements with the rest of the world are EU ones. Until new ones have been agreed with each and every major country, uncertainty will persist and that will translate into a lack of decisions about investment. This is likely to take a very long time.
Despite the lack of agreement for post-Brexit trading, non-EU countries and businesses that have a productive and good working relationship with Britain will not risk jeopardising that regardless of EU politicians’ desire to teach us a lesson.
Patience and strategic relationships will be key to our success as a trading nation post Brexit.
We might remind ourselves of those courageous pioneers who built the British Empire 200 years ago. It was essentially a trading network built on relationships forged by foreign travel. Now is the time to get out of our comfort zone and make friends with the rest of the world.