After the monumental vote in the United Kingdom to exit the European Union, a flurry of rumours began: whether international companies would exit the UK as a response.
News reports have indicated that various industries have been on the hunt for new headquarters, and European cities have been busy vying for attention – but the jury is still out on whether or not the economy will really see an exodus. Broadstreet Cross Border Specialists
explores what to consider when moving businesses to a new country following Brexit, and why the Netherlands has ranked high on the list of choices.
The state of business after Brexit
International companies headquartered in London now face a daunting decision: stay within the UK and face the unknown, or move operations to the EU. The creative sector in the UK risks slowing down, according to EU think tank Bruegel
, and a chunk of the industry is already eyeing a move; a survey in March 2017
showed that 40 percent of UK-based gaming companies are considering relocating.
The spotlight has shone particularly brightly on the financial services industry, which has, for the past century, called London its capital. A New York Times report
published almost immediately after the vote in June 2016 showed that several finance executives indicated they would move a “significant” amount of their workforce to a location within the EU as a result of Brexit
Considerations when moving a business to the Netherlands
The report went on to detail the criteria for a new location, which includes an English-language environment, favourable regulations, good transportation and communications infrastructures, availability of commercial and residential real estate, and enough culture for relocated employees to enjoy. In the end, Amsterdam topped the list.
The city already has a storied history as a global financial centre, and the city has reportedly been in talks with various financial institutions about the potential relocation. But though the focus in the news has been on large, global institutions, small and medium businesses in other industries have already packed up and found a new home in the Netherlands, such as fancy dress manufacturer Smiffys
Doing business in the Netherlands: rules and regulations
Each business moving to the Netherlands must carefully examine local regulations beyond the EU, such as the Netherlands’ current rule limiting bankers’ bonuses to 20 percent of their salary — the EU cap is set at 100 percent, and this restriction has been somewhat of deterrent for financial institutions and its high-level employees. However, according to the World Bank
, the Netherlands still ranks fairly high in terms of “ease of doing business”, landing in spot 28 worldwide and at 14 among the EU (including, at this point, the UK).
Ease of employee relocation and integration
Regardless of industry, a business relies on its talent to succeed. When a business plans to move its operations to the Netherlands, ensuring that the process goes smoothly for the employees, not just the business itself, is paramount to success. This includes payroll — relocated employees should have no gaps in payment, especially since they are uprooting their lives to follow a company. Because so much must be arranged when moving a company from the UK to the Netherlands, it’s often recommended that businesses work with specialists in international, relocation, payroll and accountancy services that can ease the process, especially for employees. These firms can also determine if there any other benefits for your employees to take advantage of, such as the 30 percent ruling
High levels of English-language proficiency in the country helps not only the business but its employees integrate. Nearly all Dutch people speak English, especially in the cities that comprise the Randstad region, and there will be far fewer language barriers; hiring new talent simply for language skills will not be necessary.
Beyond its English readiness, the country of choice should, as the NYT article mentioned, be rich in culture — something the Netherlands has in abundance, thanks to its vibrant art scene, culinary powerhouses and history.
Starting a business in the Netherlands
Those who are still in the planning stages of founding a business have certainly heard of the excitement around Amsterdam: it has become a hotspot for techy startups and media companies (Netflix, for example, has its European HQ in the city). The World Bank rankings for starting a business show that the Netherlands fares even better, ranking 22nd
worldwide and seventh in the EU.
The focus has now shifted, highlighting Amsterdam as a place for businesses large and small, new and old in any industry. With the Brexit cloud hovering over businesses in the UK, many are looking for a way to remain in the EU despite their ties to the UK — and the Netherlands has emerged as a top candidate.