By Jonathan Davies
With Scotland heading to the polls today (Thursday) to vote in a historic referendum on independence, we'll be bringing you the latest opinion from the British community throughout the day.
Kara Ordwar at CityIndex.com.au, says:
“Sterling crosses are obviously the big concern for traders over the next 24 hours although the FTSE is also likely to take a hit amid the uncertainties when results start filtering out. Volatility is almost guaranteed around political uncertainties such as this and less liquid markets during the Asia/Australian session should make for some big swings in GBP/USD.
"If we do see a 'No' vote, concerns still arise over the new powers Westminster has promised to Scotland. FX markets indicate their expectations lie in the 'No' camp since sterling has rebounded from the previously traded lows but given there are still a large number of undecided voters we could be in for some interesting moves. 1.60 in GBP/USD on the downside will look like an easy target if expectation start to change.”
Mike Abbott, head of wealth, Sable Group, says:
“We need to think ahead about the next Big Questions - in the event of a ‘yes’ vote we have no clarity on whether there will be a currency union, how pensions will be managed and how much of the UK debt Scotland will take on. We also don’t know if Scotland will be an EU member state. We can anticipate an inevitable and protracted period of uncertainty. Speculators will be making trades, but long-term investors will have to let their portfolios weather the uncertainty.
“This event is a significant litmus test for the individual investor and should only be of concern for investors with very low risk appetites or very short investment time horizons. If this kind of event puts you on edge, we’d advise you to revisit your goals and consider whether you have invested at the right risk level for your risk appetite and your time horizon.”
Kevin Uphill, Managing Director of Mergers & Acquisitions specialists Avondale, says:
"The UK is currently in state of growth following its largest deficit in 70 years. Whilst this rapid recovery has a clear and obvious impact on increased M&A activity, the Scottish Referendum could have a drastic effect on both the amount of activity taking place and the value of the businesses being sold."
Alistair Cotton, corporate dealer, Currencies Direct, says:
“Whatever answer is arrived at for the crucial currency question, it’s imperative it is a permanent one — or at least a very long-term one. Any transitional option, most likely sterlingisation, is very likely to lead to capital flight and be a speculator's dream. Either the currency depreciates and the speculators win big time, or the government manages to maintain its value, in which case no money is lost — a classic one way bet. Money needs to be a store of value and the uncertainty that temporary use creates (a transition to what?) would leave a fledgling Scottish state extremely vulnerable — and have repercussions on the rest of the UK.”
Piers Chead, owner BCSG business solutions and TheFormationsCompany.com, says:
"Proudly British, for me Scottish independence is a big concern — both for business and for Great Britain as a nation.
"Entrepreneurialism and innovation in Britain is strong, and for a small country, we have a lot of clout in a lot of business areas globally. Already with successful independent means of supporting innovation, levels of entrepreneurialism in Scotland or in the rest of the UK, shouldn’t be affected. But a yes vote will definitely dilute our uniqueness in the world’s eyes and will have an impact on how British business, or ‘brand Britain’ is perceived."
Stephen Attree is managing director of MLP Solicitors based in the North West of England, says:
"Once the outcome of the vote is known, companies will need to move fast to ensure they stay within the law. For starters, they may need to update their commercial contracts and rethink what rights they offers employees, and a good law firm will help ensure they are on the right track.
"But there are still so many details to be decided. It is likely that vital decisions such as what currency would be used and how much would it cost to do business will only become clear after months or years of negotiation between Westminster and Holyrood.
"One thing is for sure, the reverberations from the Scottish referendum will echo long after Thursday's vote."
Jason Stockwood, CEO of Simply Business, says:
"The Scottish people have the right to self-determination. If they vote Yes, their wishes should be respected and accepted without question by Westminster, by the business community, and by the Scottish opposition.
"However, our points of commonality with Scotland outweigh the points of difference. Scotland must be treated more fairly, and their concerns properly addressed - and if we want them to stay, we must find ways to make that happen.
"The SNP genuinely want to create a more just society. It is a travesty that they do not feel able to do this as part of one of the world's most prominent economies. We need new, more egalitarian policies that address Scotland's concerns, rather than focusing on a London-centric 'recovery'.
"If Scotland votes Yes, it will begin a domino effect that could see the UK splinter much further in our lifetimes. That would be an enormous failure - not because there is anything intrinsically right about the idea of a United Kingdom, but because it would signal the political class's unwillingness to build a fair and just society. If areas of the country feel like they would be better off out of the UK, we need to ask why we are failing them."
Derek McCulloch, partner at Edinburgh-based law firm, Gillespie Macandrew, says:
"It remains to be analysed why certain sectors of the population were more or less in favour of Independence but I would like to think the majority considered that Scotland remains a proud land of opportunity and hope with highly skilled people, significant natural resources, world class universities and leading edge business in a most beautiful setting, not only attractive to foreign direct investment but also a base from which to capitalise on, to connect and trade in goods services and intellectual capital globally."
Stuart Fuller, director of commercial operations at NetNames, says:
“Currently Scotland, as part of the UK, has as much right to claim .UK as its top level domain as anyone in Wales, England or Northern Ireland. However, independence would undoubtedly fuel a conversation about what would be next for Scotland’s domain name space and whether Scotland should have its own County Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).
Tim Wheeldon, managing director of Fluent Money Ltd, says:
"Scottish businesses must consider personal finance not only from the individual customer’s perspective, but also by recognising it as a viable industry and source of employment within the Scottish economy. Much focus has been directed towards Scotland’s other thriving sectors, but with perhaps insufficient attention paid to other industries that will take a hit if the referendum vote results in a ‘Yes’ to independence."
Paul Hinds Senior Vice President for Retail at IRI, says:
“It is unlikely that retailers will want to impose price increases initially, particularly when shoppers are already cutting back on how much they buy from the major supermarkets. The prevailing trends that face grocery retail and shopper behaviours will not hinge on the result of the referendum.
"The budget conscious shopper will continue to move to the discount shops, buying lower priced alternatives or simply making do with less. The reality is that the supermarket price war is saving families close to nothing (54p per week for the average household). Retailers need to think differently about how to optimise price levels as well as range assortment, which will remain a complex challenge. Keeping shoppers loyal to the store and preventing them taking their entire basket to another retailer will still be front of mind.”
Andrew Watters, Director, Thomas Eggar LLP, says:
“Various commentators have spoken on the dangers of a race to the bottom in setting corporation tax rates. There are also dangers on how personal tax might work between Scottish and UK systems. One potentially awkward area is the current UK approach to domicile.
“In broad terms, you are UK resident if you live here but you are only UK domiciled if your heart is here. A person who is UK resident and domiciled is taxable in the UK on his worldwide wealth. A non domiciled person can opt to pay UK tax only on monies 'remitted" into the UK.
“This is an obvious attraction for wealthy foreigners to choose to live in the UK and to spend and invest here. An independent Scotland may be tempted to have a similar regime to compete with UK in attracting foreign investment."
Callum Campbell, Scottish entrepreneur and crowdfunder based in London, says:
“As chairman of a steering group for Scottish enterprise, and a proud Scot, I want nothing more than a vibrant Scotland full of exciting, young, high-growth companies.
“The fact is though, if Independence is voted through tomorrow, regulation will make it very difficult for financiers based in London or elsewhere in the UK to raise funds for young Scottish companies. This will starve these young companies of the capital investment they urgently need to growth and thrive."
Nick Dent, a partner in Clyde & Co's employment team, says:
"If Scotland votes yes, employers with interests and employees in Scotland will be wondering what will change. There will be nothing drastic will change before the 2016 elections.
If Scots then re-elect the SNP, some of the most recent reforms to employment rights may be revised. For example, the SNP's White Paper on independence contains proposals to restore the 90-day consultation period for large-scale redundancies, abolish the shares-for-rights scheme, and open consultation into increasing employee representation on boards, as well as quotas for female representation at board level.
"The SNP has also committed itself to a living wage and to a minimum wage that rises in line with inflation. There are also plans to create a Convention on Employment and Labour Relations, to encourage collaboration between employers, employee representatives and the government, based on the German model. The White Paper stresses the importance of inward investment, so an independent Scottish Government would need to walk a tight-rope between enhancing protections for employees and making Scotland an attractive place for employers."
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