At a glance
- Two in five of SME owners and decision makers (43%) voted to leave the European Union (EU)
- Despite this, many small businesses in the UK have had a tumultuous time since the EU Referendum on 23rd June
- We discuss the latest Zurich SME Risk Index results post-Brexit
The latest Zurich SME Risk Index results show that many small businesses in the UK have had a tumultuous time since the EU Referendum on 23rd June as the UK voted to Leave, despite two in five of SME owners and decision makers (43%) voting to leave the European Union (EU).
The survey of over 1,000 SMEs revealed that anxieties about leaving the EU persist. Less than three months on, almost a quarter of SMEs (22%) already feel that the devaluation of the pound in the fallout from the vote has hindered their business, and over half (57%) are now primarily concerned with the effect of Britain’s official withdrawal from the EU on foreign currency and exchange rates. This anxiety may be due to the knock-on effect of a weak sterling on import and export conditions, the second greatest concern amongst SMEs post-referendum (46%).
While business conditions remain uncertain, it is vital that the interests of UK SMEs remain represented on the world stage.”
Anne Griffiths, Head of SME Proposition, Zurich
Statistics suggest that, above all else, SMEs crave certainty in the business environment, following the decision to Leave. If asked to vote in the EU Referendum again, slightly more SMEs would vote for a Remain decision now (55%) than before (54%), yet more than half of SMEs stated that they oppose calls for a second EU referendum, regardless (52%).
Optimistic view on trade
SMEs have seen positives in developments since the Leave vote, however. International trade talks have grabbed the headlines in recent weeks, and this has been keenly felt in the SME community, with almost half stating that international trade risks, including sanctions and regulation, were a key concern for their businesses (44%). SMEs have, however, shown confidence that Theresa May can deliver on the international stage, with more than three times as many business owners indicating that her appointment as Prime Minister will have a positive impact on the success of their business (25%) rather than a negative one (8%).
Anne Griffiths, Head of SME Proposition at Zurich comments:
“Amid concerns over currency fluctuation, import and export conditions, and international trade talks, SMEs appear to be showing confidence in the new Prime Minister to deliver stability in uncertain times.
“Statistics suggest a worrying uplift in concern about business risk among SMEs, which hit two year highs earlier this year. While business conditions remain uncertain, it is vital that the interests of UK SMEs remain represented on the world stage, and that British business leaders receive the support they need to continue to function as the backbone of the UK economy.”