Make sure both your customers and bank are on board.
Chancellor Gordon Brown has urged British businesses to 'prepare intensively' for the euro. Major financial questions for SMEs to consider are:
Your customers - what will they want? Will they want you to issue price lists in euros? You will need to know when they will want to be invoiced in and/or make payments in euro. This may have impact on your IT systems and could be an issue as early as 1 January 1999. If you are thinking of changing your new systems, they will therefore need to be able to cope with a transitional period as well as an eventual complete changeover (see also SME IT column).
You as the customer - will your own bank be ready? The extent to which you will be ready for your customers will also depend on the extent to which your bank is ready for you. Key questions to ask your bank are: when will you be able to offer us euro bank accounts? Are you establishing alliances with other European banks to offer a pan-European service? What products will you offer to manage sterling/euro exchange risk while the UK is 'out'? when will you offer euro denominated loans and mortgages?
And will my personal banking contact receive the necessary training to be able to help me?
You should carry out a thorough review of the likely impact of the single currency on your business. It is well worth attending a seminar on the subject. You should then contact your bank, your software suppliers and your accountants to get the necessary advice and assurances.
Christine Corner is a business services partner at Baker Tilly, 0171 413 5100.