Small and Medium sized Enterprises split over Brexit

In the run up to Christmas and the New Year it’s only natural for insurance brokers to forget an important event looming on the UK’s agenda: the EU Referendum. Even though there is currently no definitive date as to when the EU Referendum will be held, it is no secret that David Cameron is pledging for it to be sooner rather than later.

This means that even if we don’t see the vote physically occurring in 2016, the year will likely be dedicated to debates on either side of the political spectrum, with businesses across the UK already starting to publicise their opinions on the split.

According to a YouGov survey commissioned by the niche insurance aggregator QuoteSearcher, 33% of SME decision makers think a British EU exit will have a negative effect on their customer/client relationships – that’s more than double of those that would think it would have a positive effect (15%). On the other hand, 66% of small enterprises believe that their hiring powers will not be affected by an EU exit because they don't hire staff from outside the UK.

There seems to be a natural split between the young and left-leaning and older, more conservative SME decision makers as to whether an EU exit would have a positive, negative, or no effect on their businesses. Discussing the findings, Professor Simon Down, Deputy Dean for Research and Enterprise at Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, said: “I’m not surprised the study has revealed a split between the younger and older generations as it conforms to stereotypes.

“Other research I’ve read suggests that in the under-35 age category there is a sense that entrepreneurship is now seen as a positive cultural and economic feature – this was not the case during the 60s, 70s and 80s. To the younger generation entrepreneurs are cultural heroes, whereas this wasn’t the case when the older generations were growing up.”

This difference in opinions could have an interesting effect on brokers and the insurance industry as a whole, especially when you compare those that have been in the industry for a substantial amount of time with startups. Another notable difference in opinion is between “small” and “medium” sized enterprises, as the study shows that those from “medium” sized enterprises are more concerned with an EU-exit than those from “small” enterprises.

Professor Down said: “There is actually a huge difference between a small and medium-sized business, the latter quite often being much more substantial, formalised and professional than their counterparts. In medium sized enterprises there is a much greater need for skills in a range of different sectors and technologies etc. Furthermore, these companies will have at least one tier of managerial staff who will have one to two specialisms, meaning the skills that they are looking for are likely to be much more sophisticated.”

As the UK insurance sector is home to both small and medium sized enterprises it won’t be surprising to see a number of debates breaking out within the industry over the next twelve months. Insurance is one of those sectors that has been around for years, yet is constantly evolving and changing with the times.

The ultimate question is how will the UK staying or leaving the EU benefit insurance brokers as a whole? Those looking to expand into new markets and horizons may be anti-Brexit, while more established companies could see it as a positive move that will help protect their companies in the future. Only time will tell.