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MPs: Accountants will be in demand during Brexit process

Members of Parliament believe accountants will be increasingly in demand during the Brexit process, according to a new study commissioned by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

The study has revealed that almost half of MPs (47%) believe that Brexit will have a positive impact on the accountancy profession, because accountants can advise clients on the implications of exiting the European Union. In contrast, less than half this number (23%) think Brexit does not represent a good opportunity for accountancy.

The same study also indicates that a clear majority of MPs (55%) believe that EU tax legislation should be reviewed immediately, rather than waiting until Brexit takes place.

However, there is a less than clear picture about the effects that Brexit may have on big business, with 42% of MPs believing Brexit will not negatively impact larger businesses compared to 43% who do.

Passporting rights

The joint research also tackles the thorny issue of EU passporting rights.

Passporting rights allow companies based in the UK to offer financial services to the rest of the EU (plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein) while only having to follow one set of regulations. This can save companies significant costs ranging from establishing various headquarters to complying with the regulations of each different country that they provide financial services to.

The study findings suggest MPs are unclear about the importance of these passporting rights with 40% agreeing that alternative arrangements for the 5,000+ firms holding such rights are essential but almost a third (29%) disagreeing. A quarter of MPs (25%) neither agrees nor disagrees that passporting rights are important, indicating real uncertainty about the issue.

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive, AAT said;

“Many of the ramifications of Brexit remain unclear, especially around issues such as passporting rights, tax, compliance and the general impact on business.

However, amongst all this uncertainty it is very clear that accountants have a valuable role to play in advising clients on the tax and financial implications of our EU withdrawal. We have recognised this and these results show that large numbers of politicians recognise this too.”

John Williams, Head of ACCA UK, said;

“It is good to see that MPs are confident that the accountants will rise to the challenge posed to business by the uncertainties of Brexit. Yet it is even more important that politicians recognise the value the accountancy profession can bring to the UK economy as it enters one of its most profoundly important periods since the Second World War.

“From re-negotiating trade deals to developing policies which can help businesses thrive in a globalised 21st century, the strategic insight and analytical rigour of accountants will be integral to providing politicians and the civil service with the information they need. MPs need to be fully aware that the world-class status of our financial services will be a vital resource in securing the best deal for UK plc.”

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 47% of MPs think Brexit will have a positive impact on the accountancy profession, with 25% uncertain and 23% thinking it won’t.
  • 55% believe EU tax legislation e.g. VAT and excise duties, should be reviewed now rather than waiting until Brexit has taken place compared to just 18% who disagree.
  • 40% agree that alternative arrangements for the 5,000+ firms holding passporting rights, which give access to the EU single market in financial services, are essential. 29% do not think it is essential with a high number neither agreeing nor disagreeing (25%).
  • 42% of MPs think Brexit will NOT negatively impact larger businesses compared to 43% who do.

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