The top priority for the UK's finance directors is to ensure the freedom to hire EU nationals in the wake of the Brexit vote, a poll by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (ICAS) said.
"The UK's finance leaders have sent a strong and clear message on their priorities to the government's Brexit negotiating team British business relies on Europe for its talent pool
"We are already hearing anecdotal evidence that some EU nationals may be thinking about moving their careers out of the UK. This is a key risk to British business and one that the government needs to address," said ICAS chief executive Anton Colella.
Nearly half (45%) of those polled predict the economy will shrink in the next 12 months. This compares to more than half of those questioned last year believing that Britain would experience moderate growth. Only six per cent of respondents in 2015 anticipated a shrinking of the economy.
Although some industry leaders have hailed the Brexit vote as an opportunity, this sentiment was not reflected in the poll. Nearly three-quarters of respondents felt that the Britain's exit from the EU represented a "challenge" rather than an "opportunity".
Only one in five felt that the Brexit vote would reduce the burden of red-tape.
"The government's Brexit negotiation team and advisory firms must now do all that they can to work with finance leaders, reduce uncertainty and remove barriers to growth so that UK business can continue to flourish as it faces its new future outside of the EU," said Colella.