Given the lack of certainty over “deal or no deal” there is huge political and economic uncertainty related to Brexit. A “No deal” outcome has the potential to be highly disruptive for the sector. Advice suggests a net reduction of EU workers coming into UK, so in various markets there are likely to be enormous skills shortages, which has the potential to create opportunities for Wilton & Bain; indeed, it may even mean more recruitment.
KEY CONSIDERATION/ RISKS
- The EU referendum has caused uncertainty amongst market participants, particularly businesses employing high numbers of EU sourced staff who face the risk of increased staff turnover accompanied with scarcity of labour due to reduced UK net inbound migration.
- Skills shortages are starting to impact organisations ability to grow, while higher costs continue to tighten their profit margins.
- The weakening of sterling against global currencies has the potential to cause sustained margin pressure as costs associated with delivering services increase, although this has also made acquisitions of UK based businesses more attractive for overseas buyers.
- Lack of clarity around legislation for providing services into Europe from UK.
AGILITY, AND DIVERSITY
Since 2011, Wilton & Bain has been diversifying its services to build resilience in its business model during times of change. In recent years, the addition of:
- A legal, risk and compliance practice
- An Interim Management practice
- Office locations on East and West Coast USA
- A dedicated Technology Resourcing practice
- A Global Corporate offering aligned to strategy, transformation, technology and change
- A leadership advisory and assessment service to enable us to broaden our capability when hiring demand is low
And a heavyweight team of experienced “market makers” has bolstered the WB offering.
EXAMPLE RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES
As described above, a risk of the new market conditions/uncertainty is that it will become harder to source EU staff, leading to a scarcity in resource. In this instance, you could reasonably expect an increased opportunity for “expertise on demand” (interim/ contract resource), offering clients capability to “get the job done”, and also a means to variablize their cost base to mitigate weak currency.
Whilst there could be a negative pressure on fees, some of our legal clients are seeing Brexit having a positive impact and whilst their public M&A teams might be quieter for 6 months (due to uncertainty) other areas like High Yield and especially regulatory will become busier.
More generally, we are also seeing firms looking to add firepower in Europe to give them more international quality strength in local markets with a big focus on Germany and France – markets where WB has had significant success.
In times of cost pressure, consulting firms can suffer. In the past, this would have represented a risk to Wilton & Bain; but now with a search offering focussed on sourcing consulting skills in house, to drive corporate transformation and an interim offering focussed on digital and change; the business now has a chance to grow, when it previously would have struggled.
In addition, the Wilton & Bain US offering has certainly strengthened the business. The US market is exceptionally strong, and growth is expected to continue, particularly for the boutique category of firms, who offer both specialism, focus and agility to adapt to changing markets.
There are currently no current signs of a worsening of the positive trading environment seen in the last two quarters, and in an uncertain market Wilton & Bain hope to leverage its full suite of services and international capability to drive growth, and compete for market share from larger, often less agile competitors.
Written by David Heron, Group CEO.