GDPR and the unforeseen consequence of Brexit


A curious side-effect of Brexit looks set to be the impact on UK businesses of data privacy regulations. Around a third have already moved at least some of their operations into the EU as a result of considering how Brexit could impact them on data privacy, and many more are likely to be assessing this.

Our company, Parseq* discovered this in a recent survey of 500 UK business leaders to coincide with the first anniversary of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations taking effect. We found that for these companies, all with over 250 employees, complying with data privacy regulations post Brexit was a bigger concern and priority than investment. As a result, 32% had moved part of their operations to the EU, and a similar number re-focused clients into the UK.

The implications of this, and indeed other re-focusing of business operations to the EU, will become more significant as Brexit becomes a reality. In some sectors, like financial services and banking – a major focus for us – European centres are working hard to attract businesses away from the UK and having some success.

But there may also be another side to this. Our business is to provide the back office processing and payroll to customers and employees of many large international companies. Curiously, the more their in-house operations in the UK contract, the more they need local partners to service UK-based employees and customers on their behalf. And, whilst this is true for all sectors, the reasons are perhaps especially clear in financial services.

Whether because of, or just since, the financial crisis almost a decade ago, UK consumers have become less and less keen to deal with call centres and help desks located in other parts of the world. Typically, they want to talk to, or deal with, someone else located in the UK.

Happily, this is the core of our business and so, whatever the outcome of Brexit, we feel confident that our operations in the UK are likely to grow. Meantime, we are also expanding into other markets – with operations in Bulgaria and also Chennai, India. Our goal is to build a range of services across international markets to best service our clients.

As the GDPR results suggest, they share this agenda but with different considerations driving how best to look after their own UK clients.

*Parseq is the leading business processing provider in the UK with over 40 years’ experience of helping organisations to acquire customers, retain market share and improve efficiency. Rami Cassis is the chairman of Parseq.