The Brexit good news: 20 percent discount on top European talent

Should US companies move their European HQ from Britain? There's a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the future. But in the meantime, Brexit has a serious silver lining...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

CEO Stephen Chipman and his teams at Boston-based Radius, have helped a lot of US companies set up European headquarters in the United Kingdom, especially in London, and their clients are understandably concerned about what to do following the country's vote to leave the European common market.

Stephen Chipman

"There's no need to worry right now," Chipman tells me on a recent visit to San Francisco to meet with local companies. "But every company is different."

Radius' clients employ a lot of people in Britain, a lot of skilled engineers, technicians, marketing and sales staff. Radius runs those offices, pays staff salaries, pays the utility bills and local taxes. It does the same in Brazil, China, India, Japan and Singapore working for 600 companies.

Will companies in Britain face restricted access to the European market? Should they start a plan to move to a new city?

Can they keep their staff or will immigration laws force them to find new sources of talent?

"There's nothing much that can be done right now because we don't know what the terms of the exit will be and it could take years before we know."

"In the meantime, your UK operations are a lot less expensive because of the drop in the pound," says Chipman. The British pound has fallen around 20 percent in value against the US dollar.

Chipman says that US companies initially choose Britain for their European HQ because it is a familiar culture but then they discover that it's also a great place for recruitment with highly qualified staff from around the world.

Since human capital is every company's single most important asset -- and cost -- a 20 percent discount on top European talent is a windfall. It's a significant silver lining in otherwise bad news around Brexit.

Chipman says he was surprised by the exit vote but he doesn't think that his clients will move. Possible trade restrictions aren't the most important business issue to consider. "They will realize the advantages of having access to the best talent."

He expects British companies to become acquisition targets because now they are a lot less expensive.

Britain is just one of many regions where Radius operates. It recently acquired Montage Services, a San Francisco based tax and compliance firm to expand its presence in San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

"Startups don't know how to open a sales office in Singapore -- or in Brazil -- but we do. We can get them into new markets quickly, help hire the staff, and deal with all the local regulations."

Radius is not a typical services company. It has also built a technology platform using it's 600-person engineering and expert knowledge operations in India. It enables clients to automate the management of their global operations through a desktop app. And it has created a global center of expertise that it plans to leverage through it's technology platform.

It's counting on being able to use that technology to scale the company faster than in typical services companies, which are constrained by the number of people they can hire. Maybe it will all will lead to a new type of online business service: Global Expansion as a Service.

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