Negotiators from the UK and EU are to begin a new push to reach agreement on post-Brexit trade after both sides agreed "to go the extra mile". A UK source said the "process still has some legs" but Boris Johnson has warned no-deal is the "most likely" outcome. A deadline to finish talks had been set for Sunday, but the prime minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to an extension. They did not say how long these latest talks would continue, but the ultimate deadline is 31 December, when the UK is due to stop following EU trading rules.
Talks will continue and many, especially in financial services, will hope to reach a deal that will allow them to continue to do business with the EU. Even with a deal in place, there will be significant changes for firms to adapt to in almost every area of their firms. Back in October, the House of Lords' EU subcommittee published a report stating the UK’s accountants, lawyers, recruiters, architects and advertisers are under risk of losing contracts and jobs when Britain formally leaves the bloc in January.
Despite this, there were reports that corporate lobby group insiders said that the discussions on Brexit preparations by professional services firms were constructive. A Brexit trade deal could run to 600 pages of legal text and must be rapidly translated into easily accessible and readable guidance for businesses, a source said after the meeting of the Government’s Brexit business taskforce.
Chris Biggs, Partner at Theta Global Advisors, commented on the role that professional services have in the Brexit process and what they could look like come January: "With businesses having to prepare for a new supranational trading environment in a matter of weeks, there is still a huge amount of speculation of what it could mean for a number of sectors that trade nationally and globally. In the professional services space, many clients will be impacted heavily by Brexit, so they are trying to understand their new working rules and regulations as quickly as possible.
“Legal and consulting firms hold an important role in deciphering a deal if it comes, and the framework and intricacies that it entails, or what the rules will be around a no-deal and future trade. Many firms will have used this time to try and prepare the best they can for 2021, but when the new rules are in practice, many will call on the professional services market to ensure that there are adhering to both the UK and European rules of the future. One large area that is bound to be heavily impacted by Brexit is systems and data. Questions have already been asked about the adequacies of the UK's data laws, so firms may be looking to implement new systems to deal with both EU and UK law if a compromise isn't agreed.
“Therefore, consulting firms that can help businesses with this will be in demand in the coming weeks, and while the House of Lords' EU sub-committee raised potential concerns in the sectors, businesses will be relying on these firms to help them get through this period. If firms correctly pivot and provide support to their clients in a timely fashion, the sector could find itself in a new business arena, helping to secure the next generation of clients both at home and on the continent."