The has released tis document comprises the findings from the first of our quarterly surveys of MCA member firms on the impact of the decision to leave the European Union.

Just over one third of firms participated. The respondents constitute a representative sample of the MCA membership.

The survey will act as a baseline against which we will track changes and developments over the coming months.

Since the survey of MCA firms conducted prior to the EU referendum showed overwhelming opposition to Brexit, the tone of some of the responses here is unsurprising. MCA members, in common with many other business leaders, are very unlikely to want to see a ‘hard’ Brexit, and will favour the retention of many of the benefits of the EU, in particular access to skilled labour and the Single Market. Nevertheless, since the referendum, MCA firms have expressed both a desire to get on the front foot and to help make Brexit work. The findings here are also in keeping with that desire. For example, respondents seeking clarity about the nature of the Government’s Brexit intentions want this both for themselves, but also for their clients. Consultants create value in the economy by helping clients with their challenges. Clarity about the nature of those challenges is accordingly useful. Consultants can help clients solve problems, but only if they know the nature of those problems.

Despite the inevitably ‘too early to say’ nature of some of the replies here, there are already some noteworthy findings. These include:

  • 11% of respondents already record a negative effect on their business
  • 50% note negative impacts on clients
  • Over 70% record negative impacts already on Financial Services
  • While most are as yet unaffected
  • 6% already indicate an impact on their ability to recruit
  • Many report negative feedback from overseas networks, including bewilderment 

It should be noted that these impacts are not post-Brexit. The UK has not yet left the EU. They are post-Brexit decision impacts. We will see how they change as we move nearer to the invocation of Article 50 and final disengagement.

We also asked member firms about percentages of overseas versus UK employees in their companies. Inevitably the results here are indicative, rather than an aggregate picture, since each respondent is accorded equal weight in the sample. However, the results give a snapshot of the consulting industry’s diversity. They may be compared with our survey of young consultants earlier this year. Only around 75% of respondents in that exercise self-identified as British, with around 12% being non-UK EU nationals.

78% of respondents record that Single Market Access matters to their clients, 56% to them, and 22% to employees from beyond the EU. Unsurprisingly, the areas they want the Government to focus on reflect this. Most respondents want Government to focus on ensuring that some approximations of the benefits of Single Market Access and free movement of labour are retained in the new settlement.

The MCA will publish its next quarterly survey early in 2017.