This remain voter is pursuing the opportunities offered by Brexit and tells us that he has not lost a single European client since the Brexit vote.
Property developer turned accountant Lee Murphy is the managing director and owner of The Accountancy Partnership and Pandle cloud accounting software.
He was extremely disappointed that the remain vote lost the referendum on June 23rd, but that soon changed.
“The logic at the time was that it was better to work with the European countries as much as possible. Since the decision I’ve changed opinion somewhat and I can see a lot more opportunities,” he says.
The view is presents a stark contrast to those held by another online accounting software provider - Big Red Cloud - whose views of the Brexit vote we covered earlier in this series.
Lee started out in property development at the age of just 23, a successful but labour-intensive venture which later ran into difficulty after the housing crash of 2008.
Lee has an history of turning periods of economic transition into opportunity.
Ironically, Lee found himself struggling to manage cash-flow which in turn motivated him to change career and go on to study finance and accounting.
After qualifying, he decided to focus mainly on the small business market (99% of all private sector businesses are small businesses according to the FSB), with the aim of helping to ensure that they avoided the same mistakes he made.
He says, “It was at a point where I had very little income and I had to decide what I wanted to do, wait it out and see if the housing market bounced back or embrace my weaknesses and re-train. It’s something I don’t regret.”
Today The Accountancy Partnership counts over 3,000 businesses across the UK and abroad on their books and employ 25 permanent staff.
European Clients Undaunted by Brexit
With Offices based in the Wirral and London, the The Accountancy Partnership also deals with a large amount of EU enquiries.
These enquiries are mainly from places such as Italy and Greece who see the UK as an attractive place to start a business.
Initially, Lee had a smaller base in mind – the single owner business. He felt they were being ignored, and had seen first-hand how larger accountancy firms would ignore him over the bigger contract.
“When I started the business I was thinking about the taxi driver, the driving instructor or the local takeaway owner in my area - the Wirral, but because I used cloud based technology, soon I had enquiries from people across the UK and abroad.
“It seemed to be something the younger generation were reaching out for – accounts online.”
Lee immediately saw the potential of encouraging businesses to set up in the UK which is why he was originally on the side of the remain camp.
“I was initially worried we would lose a lot of clients in the EU,” he said.
“But after the referendum we didn’t lose a single one, although they had a lot of questions. And when I started researching, I realised that I probably wasn’t going to lose any clients at all. Most of them are remote, technology based who aren’t reliant upon imports and exports but want to take advantages of the many benefits of being a UK business. After all, the UK is such an attractive place to start a business compared to other places in Europe. Not only is it low cost to start up, it has also has one of the lowest rates of corporation tax – why would Brexit stop people from taking advantage of this?”
Since the referendum Lee has ensured that his team are able to answer any questions from foreign accounts.
“We’re not concerned over freedom of movement as we only have the UK offices but I’ve looked in to importing and exporting, currency etc. – I can’t see how the EU will penalise us when we are their biggest importer. It doesn’t make sense. I strongly believe trade isn’t going to be affected, perhaps only slightly but I can’t see us not being allowed to trade and I think we will do quite well in the negotiations.”
“We did hold talks with one business who was deciding where to site their EU business, I think eventually they went with Germany but I think it was a one-off case.”
The Accountancy Partnership is UK-based and so trades in Sterling, but it recognises that many UK businesses, however small, still trade in various currencies.
Pandle, the cloud accounting software Lee and the team have developed plans for currency fluctuations accordingly.
“The majority of our clients want to know what Brexit will mean for their business, but it’s so uncertain right now, we just don’t know. Due to the weak pound, some European clients who have multiple bank accounts across multiple currencies are keeping more in the way of Euros and Dollars rather than Sterling. Even though they operate UK companies this can easily be accounted for using Pandle as conversions are automatic and seamless,” says Lee.
With regards to the outlook, The Accountancy Partnership urge Prime Minister May to keep small businesses in mind when pursuing new trade deals.
“Right now, I see a lot of opportunities open to us. Quicker trade agreements, more of them and more suited to us. I’ve definitely changed my mind but I would say to Theresa May – you have to keep in mind the smaller business. They are the back bone of the UK,” says Lee.