Can we afford to lose EU directors from UK companies?

With the dust now settled after the General Election result, thoughts are turning back to BREXIT. We know the relocation industry is watching the movements of business giants carefully, to see if they’ll retain their operations in the UK or bail out in search of a more favourable location.

The impact of BREXIT, however, is also predicted to impact SMEs – small and medium-size enterprises in the UK.

Recent research has found that UK SMEs with a director recruited from the EU have grown 33% faster than the average UK SME without an EU citizen at the helm. The findings, by European money transfer service Opal Transfer, examined turnover among almost 15,000 UK SMEs between 2011 and 2016 via data filed to Companies House. It found that turnover grew by 20% at companies with at least one EU director - 5% better than UK SMEs without a leader from an EU country. The boost is said to come from a European’s high level of motivation to succeed, and the fresh thinking and ideas they bring – garnered from a different education, business experience and culture.

“It’s clear that the UK currently has the power to attract professional talent from across Europe, and UK SMEs will want it to stay that way as the boost to business is tangible,” comments Alex Hancock here at ARPM Relocation. “EU professionals head hunted to take up directorships in the UK and those that are naturally attracted to our country are a good income stream for relocation companies so we want the influx to continue as much as SMEs,” adds Alex.

The uncertainty cast by BREXIT may leave some EU directors wondering if future conditions will be favourable enough to live and work in the UK. “Much is made of mobility of the European masses – with borders tightened and quotas slashed with immigration and unskilled workers in mind - but the flipside is a potentially hostile environment for professional specialists from the EU - those who boost the productivity and success of our home-grown SMEs. If it doesn’t make sense to come to the UK, highly skilled Europeans won’t,” adds Alex, “and that would dent our trading market.”

It’s possible that the UK will need to work harder in the future to attract professionals to our shores and rather than recruitment being about the vacancy, it may morph into one more akin to tourism – selling cities for their cultural, lifestyle and educational benefits, as well as for their job prospects. “If EU professionals start weighing up job prospects in other European or worldwide locations, the focus could shift towards a holistic relocation package – with equal emphasis on a unique living experience coupled with attractive employment opportunities. Luckily, the UK is almost unrivalled when it comes to facilities, heritage and property options - helping the country to retain its competitive edge.”

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