SURREY and Hampshire companies need to consider how the euro will affect their businesses, says Linda Ballard, a partner at Baker Tilly in Guildford.

Although the UK is not in the euro zone, she says that there is a potential "time bomb" ticking under the UK economy.

"Any company with customers, suppliers or branch offices in the euro zone needs to ensure that their systems can cope with the new currency. Anyone not ready could seriously compromise their business," she said.

"It seems that the marketplace is far from informed about the changes the euro will bring. Even though we are retaining the pound, companies risk cash flow problems if their systems are not prepared in advance."

She suggests that as an initial checklist, managers and directors should consider the following points:

* Do price lists in legacy currencies need to be replaced by euro prices (or another currency)?

* Can suppliers can be paid in euros?

* Can company bank accounts process euros?

* Are IT systems equipped to cope?

* Will invoices issued in legacy currencies be invalid, as this will delay payment?

* Are there any contractual implications?

* What is your tax situation?

* Are staff up to speed?

"Any company director who cannot answer these questions should seek urgent advice. The potential cash flow problems resulting from the euro changeover are huge and pose a very real risk to business viability throughout the region," she added.