We do not import and export and so we are not affected by all the additional bureaucracy that has followed Brexit. We hear about it and so feel the pain of others.
What has affected us and which is a direct result of Brexit and the immigration controls subsequently imposed, is losing the pool of Europeans wanting to live in the UK and work and train in accountancy. It has led to an extreme shortage of available talent, and I do not think it is a situation that will improve in the short term. It has however led to the UK sales reps of Indian firms more actively trying to persuade us to outsource our requirements and utilise accounting staff located in India. It’s actually quite easy because with so much now being online they just login from anywhere in the world to our UK servers. It’s just like having our staff working from home but in this instance, home is thousands of miles away.
Many firms have chosen to go down this path and some firms now have minimal staff of their own in the UK. We chose some time ago not to go down this path.
European labour has been important for us for many years. We have employed Poles, Czechs, Rumanians and Russians. They were all solid hard-working individuals. I don’t think we have ever employed anyone from Ukraine.
They have all been good people and this contributes to the feeling of helplessness when I see what is currently unfolding in Ukraine because I can imagine it happening to the people we have employed over the years, and that does not bear thinking about. You cannot help but feel helpless.
I think everyone has times in their lives where people or circumstances conspire to appear to take away control over their own destiny. I imagine that the people of Ukraine felt that way, and many probably still do. I am certain that everyone in business will have had times like this. Someone losing their business because of the economic situation over the last couple of years will probably feel like this until they start to get back on their feet.
However, the feeling of helplessness is just that. It is a feeling. It is rarely true. It may be the way you feel when the event, whatever it may be, first happens. It reminds me of the time when I tripped and fell down some concrete steps with a paint pot in my hand. I lay on the ground. There was the initial shock. Then there was the checking that I was still alive and that nothing seemed to be broken. The paint had spilled, and I had a few bruises and a sore head (courtesy of the concrete path that I had landed on). Once I had done my personal stock take, and the feeling sorry for myself was fading, the brain started to work again. What was Helen going to say about the paint on the path? Reality returned and I moved into action. I was no longer helpless. I was where I was but I was now doing something practical to get things sorted out.
Now, I recognise that I was not dealing with a Russian invasion, but you maybe see my point. Something happens. You stall temporarily, not knowing what to do and probably thinking there is nothing you can do. But your senses return, you start to think more clearly, and you go into problem-solving mode. You are then ready to move into action and soon realise that you are still in control of your own decisions, and you start taking the decisions and actions that you need to overcome that event and get back on your feet.
I have had a few events in my professional life that left me temporarily helpless. But it was only temporary and ultimately each event made me stronger. I am sure that many of you will identify with this. There is a saying that whatever does not kill you makes you stronger.
But sometimes you need a little help from your friends. We all have friends who can help, some more than others. It appears that Ukrainians have a lot of friends.
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Alan E Long
The Long Partnership