Small firms are taking a pragmatic view of Brexit, says BDO

By Marion Dakers, financial services editor, Daily Telegraph

Smaller firms are taking a pragmatic view of Brexit and already planning for the possible fallout on their business models, according to the head of the accountancy firm BDO.

The firm, which caters to small- and mid-sized businesses, reported a 3.8pc rise in revenues to £405m for the last financial year and said its clients are equally busy this year, planning for leaving the EU while continuing work on their business.  

“The ambitious and high-growth businesses we work with - many of which are in the mid-market, AIM-listed or PE-backed - have continued to succeed despite uncertainty in global markets, the EU referendum and government changes at home,” said Paul Eagland, BDO’s managing partner.

Mr Eagland said that while more than 70pc of BDO’s clients were in favour of remaining in the EU before the vote, they are now “very matter of fact, the vote is the vote, and we can see them already starting to plan for scenarios around their supply chain, where they get their people from, and bit by bit they are starting to digest it”.

BDO’s clients are also taking a practical view of the growing scrutiny on the tax duties of corporate Britain, he said, helping increase the firm’s revenues from tax work 6pc higher to £126m.

“Companies are not just looking at the science of tax but also their own philosophy around the role of tax policies… There are some companies that are pleased this is happening, and feel that an even playing field is positive.”

His comments come days after Bob Moritz, the global chairman of PwC, said this is “an era of unprecedented scrutiny and the public expects more from business today”. Theresa May also used her Conservative conference speech to single out international firms that "treat tax laws as an optional extra".

Mr Eagland became managing partner at BDO this week after 30 years at the firm. He replaces Simon Michaels who stood down after serving the maximum eight years in charge, but who remains at the firm as part of the corporate advisory team.

The firm has grown its revenues by 50pc in the past four years, helped by a merger with rival accountant PKF in 2013 and tighter audit rules for large listed companies, which have forced them to find new advisers for non-audit work.

In the last financial year BDO’s profits per partner, a closely-watched measure of accountants’ earnings, increased 29pc to £360,000. Overall profits rose 22pc to £80.3m.

A quiet spell for stock market floats meant revenues from advisory work were flat at £136m for the year, while audit activity rose 8pc to £143m.

BDO signed a global partnership with Microsoft last week in an effort to broaden its online services.