Almost two-thirds of finance professionals expect a no-deal Brexit but more than half say their companies are not prepared.
The Brexit survey polled more than 400 members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (Icas) in November, during the week that the draft withdrawal deal was published and agreed.
A no-deal Brexit is either “very likely” or “quite likely”, according to 65% of the finance professionals.
Should the UK leave the EU in March without a Withdrawal Agreement in place, fewer than half (45%) of respondents believe their organisation is either “very prepared” or “quite prepared” for the implications, 41% say it is unprepared while 14% do not know.
There is a disparity between large and small organisations, however, with 51% of large organisations thought to be ‘prepared’ compared with 33% of small and medium enterprises.
Accountants’ expectations have changed since the group’s last survey, with 29% now expecting the UK to end up in the EU Customs Union but not the Single Market, up from 17% in the summer.
Bruce Cartwright, Icas chief executive, said: “Businesses are trying to plan for the future against a difficult political backdrop with no clear consensus.
“There’s no doubt that the clarity they need to prepare for Brexit is in short supply.
“Nevertheless it’s concerning that only 45% of respondents believe their organisation is prepared for a no-deal Brexit.
“A lack of consensus makes for challenging times, but we have to hope that the current parliamentary debate will tackle some thorny issues and start to deliver much needed clarity.
“In the meantime, ICAS will seek to inform and support our members, and the wider business community.”
Christine O’Neill, chairwoman of Brodies LLP said: “Given the uncertain political environment the prospect of a no-deal exit from the EU cannot yet be discounted.
“There is no call for Brexit-related hysteria but I would recommend that no-deal planning moves up on everyone’s agenda.”