If you are in business in the UK, there is a good chance you will be affected in some way by the vote on Scottish independence, whether directly as a company with links to Scotland, or indirectly as an English firm whose banking and risk profile are impacted upon by the referendum’s outcome.
Carl Hasty, director of international payments specialist Smart Currency Business, recently outlined some of the likely impacts in a guest column for SME magazine Business Matters.
Unsurprisingly, the main impact will be on companies registered in Scotland, and for those businesses the primary decision will need to be whether to stay in Scotland or move south of the border and into the rest of the UK (rUK).
This of course includes certain banks, which have made the headlines in recent weeks again due to the possibility of them relocating their head offices from Scotland to England – and businesses that bank with affected financial institutions should be aware of how this affects their own risk profile.
But there are other implications that may arise from a Yes vote; Scotland has a disproportionate stake in the UK energy market, from oil and gas resources to renewable energy infrastructure, and if this energy is being sold cross-border it could see rUK bills rise.
If you already trade cross-border with customers in Scotland, you’ll also likely encounter a whole new currency, as the potential for Scotland to retain GBP has already been ruled out.
This could mean a brand new monetary system, a union with another major existing currency, or – perhaps most likely – Scotland could join the euro as a way to put a new system in place with the security of an existing and (relatively) stable currency union.
Whatever happens, even a No vote is likely to lead to political ramifications, legislative changes and new powers granted to the Scottish Government – so businesses both in Scotland and in rUK should make sure they have carried out a full risk assessment as soon as the decision is announced.