As Brexit reaches a pivotal point in its progress in the next few weeks, we can also look towards the prospect of a new US/UK trade deal. So with that, is there more likelihood of businesses working together across the Atlantic? And what are the challenges and opportunities that can come from increasing that famously ‘special relationship’?
Both the UK and the USA are big global markets, but the US does dwarf the UK, and most other markets, with a stock market currently worth $34 trillion, compared to the rest of the world’s $44 trillion capitalisation. However, there are key cultural differences and similarities that can really benefit businesses with the right tools, knowledge and experience.
The gateway to Europe and the global capital of the world
Amongst the mutual benefits to companies on both sides of the pond are the different perspectives and gateways that the UK and USA provide for companies. For example, in our experience, particularly in financial services, a lot of companies have a global HQ in the USA, while running their international offices out of London, which is seen as the gateway to Europe. The UK market is well regulated, there’s a similar working culture to the USA, and it is still very much seen as the entry point to Europe. As English is still very much considered the language of business, it is a shared strength.
The challenge as Brexit unfolds, will be seeing to what extent that border with Europe hardens, but it’s still very much seen as a beachhead.. The UK also remains important given it is halfway between the timezones of the US and Asia and its dominance in insurance and currency trading.
What has been sometimes lost in the discussion about the UK’s future, is it remains a significant market in itself across a range of industries and services. Every business needs new markets and a trade deal between the US and UK will bring opportunities for firms on both sides of the Atlantic.
Myths about working culture
There are a lot of myths out there about the differences in British and US business culture. The reality is that both countries broadly have a similar way of working, but equally, companies have the opportunity to find their niche because there isn’t just one working culture in either America or the UK. For example, the culture in New York is very different to San Francisco. Equally, London is different to Manchester and Glasgow.
Ultimately, it’s not one size fits all. It is about building relationships and having the right network and experience for transacting and doing business. For example, at gigCMO we have executives within our team with tangible experience blending into those different working cultures with responsibility for either adapting ideas and processes coming out of the US and into it, whether it’s hiring talent or generating sponsorship.
The ‘special relationship’
The US/UK relationship has a famously close history. In broad terms it’s been a very positive, long standing relationship based on respect, recognition and affinity with one another. In lots of ways that stems back to the second world war, but also much further, stretching out across the centuries to the foundations of the USA, especially in cities like New York and Boston. However one feels about it, it is quite unlike any other international relationship in the world.
Therefore, however Brexit and a following trade deal plays out, the greatest strength is that it’s not starting from square one; it’s building on the strength of a very successful existing relationship. We are all operating on an international stage, regardless of Brexit or any other political developments, and having opened that door through trade and communications, there’s no going back, and moving forward has a lot of exciting prospects that we’re only beginning to discover. The key is having the people around us with on the ground experience taking businesses from one market to another successfully.