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World’s finance professionals fire warning shot over ‘Brexit’


06 Feb 2014


Euro & Finance
44% of UK accountants say EU is a benefit to their organisation Financial services would feel biggest hit from exit

New findings from an ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) poll have revealed that finance professionals across the world see a heavy cost to the businesses they work for if the UK left the European Union - a prospect increasingly referred to as ‘Brexit.’

Accountants in the UK, Europe, but also Africa, Asia, MENASA and the Americas, saw it as costly move for their businesses/organisations, and for the UK itself.

The findings from the first of a series of polls from ACCA, the global accountancy body, found that 44% of those surveyed in the UK saw a net benefit to their business in remaining in the EU (against 21% who saw a net loss), while ACCA members in other parts of the world, when asked what Brexit would mean to their organisations, the costs were seen as being greater than any benefit of leaving the EU.

Percentage of respondents who thought the UK economy would lose out from Brexit vs. those who thought it would benefit:

UK                              54% vs. 32%
Ireland                        82% vs. 7%
Rest of Europe         62% vs. 15%
All outside Europe   40% vs. 29%
Asia Pacific               32% vs. 39%
Africa                          39% vs. 25%
MENASA                   46% vs. 25%
Americas                   57% vs 24%

Manos Schizas, ACCA senior economic analyst, said: “The Brexit debate among ACCA’s UK and global membership is a little more nuanced than the public debate. On balance, our members in both the UK and abroad would lose out from Brexit, and they believe the UK economy would lose out too. Most of our members expect that their individual businesses will be unaffected either way.

“But for one in six businesses, the stakes are very high, and Brexit could make a game-changing difference to their prospects. Finance professionals in these companies are almost certainly planning for different contingencies as we speak.

“The survey cut across all sectors, including private practice, businesses, public sector and non-profit, which reveals the various concerns finance professionals have about Brexit on their specific organisations.

“What is also clear is that many accountants across the world feel that they, and their organisations, have a stake in the UK’s decisions – including over 40% of our membership outside Europe. It says a lot about the important role the UK still has to play on the world stage.”

Financial services hit

On a sector by sector basis the research showed that ACCA members working in financial services were most likely to cite a net benefit for their organisations from the UK’s EU membership. Similarly, it was ACCA’s financial services sector members who saw the UK economy as a whole suffering more from Brexit than other sectors.

Manos Schizas said: “To some of the general public, the City and Europe may seem to be at odds over everything, from regulation to remuneration, but in fact it is our members in financial services who most want the UK to remain part of the Common Market.”

The poll findings, however, show that for some individual businesses and organisations, Brexit was seen as potentially unlocking significant growth for them, or encouraging companies to move additional activity to the UK over the medium to long term. However, in the other extreme, exiting Europe would threaten a business’ survival or force them to move to another market.

Brexit could unlock potential growth or lead to increased activity in UK

UK                              6.2%
Ireland                        6.8%
Rest of Europe         0%
Outside Europe        4.3%

Brexit could threaten long term business survival or force a move to another market

UK                              7.3%
Ireland                        6.8%
Rest of Europe         4.6%
Outside Europe        0%

Manos Schizas added: “It is tempting to say that the extreme impacts of Brexit – good and bad – cancel each other out. But this is not an easy call; the big question is which group contains most of the business the UK is counting on for growth; we need to know more before we can answer that question.”

In total, 464 ACCA members were surveyed in the last quarter: 186 of which in the UK, 111 elsewhere in Europe, and 167 outside Europe.

View more of the poll findings at


For more information, please contact
Steve Rudaini, ACCA Newsroom
+ 44 (0) 207 059 5622
+44 (0) 7801 133985  

Notes to Editors

1.    ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

2.    We support our 162,000 members and 428,000 students in 173 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 89 offices and centres and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

3.    Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.