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Put Down The Crystal Ball: Understanding Brexit's Impact On The UK Finance Sector

17/05/2017 13:12 | Updated 5 days ago

"I'm not going to be calling a snap election,", Theresa May told BBC journalist Andrew Marr in September 2016. "I've been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability, to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing and have that election in 2020".

The issue of course, which the British Prime Minister refers to, is Brexit. It seems now that for a few protracted years, the British public has been grappling with that fateful word. What does it mean for British politics? Should I vote to remain or to leave? When will the official process happen? Will it be a 'hard' or a 'soft' Brexit?

In short, there is still just as much uncertainty as there ever was around Brexit. Remainers have rallied around the argument that leaving the European Union will deeply damage Britain's commercial and trade links, whilst also painting the UK as an isolationist country, ready to extract itself from its European neighbours in pursuit of its own self-interest. So, too, there has been a marked increase in reports that financial firms are moving jobs out of Britain, to accommodate a new and as yet unknown financial landscape.

Germany's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, which currently employs 9,000 staff across the UK, has warned that up to 4,000 UK jobs could be moved to Frankfurt and other locations in the European Union as a result of Brexit. According to Ernst and Young, the number of finance firms saying they will either move jobs out of the UK or review their domicile as a result of Brexit has risen by 50% since the start of the year. The future looks uncertain for Britain, and particularly London as a financial centre.

However, in an era where conflicting but supposedly authoritative news reports can be stumbled upon in less than the time it takes to reload a webpage, it's important to look at the cold hard facts. Indeed, in a changing jobs market, recruitment databases actually become the best forecasting instrument for the economy, and where the jobs market is headed.

Data from across the UK jobs market is telling. Jobs listed in the finance category increased by a total of 6 per cent in the UK, from 89,654 in 2016 to 95,157 in 2017, indicating an actual growth period for the British finance sector. Though of course the formal negotiation process may result in changes that alter the desirability of the UK in this area, it appears that at the moment the demand for financial expertise is undiminished.

In my last blog, I said that speculators had to put down the crystal ball and face facts. Since I last posted, an election has been called and Britain is very much on the campaign trail, which comes with its own distinctive fervor. The discussion around the prospects of some industries can often get confusing, which is why sticking to what the facts are telling us - in this time of electoral uncertainty - are the best way of getting the bigger picture.

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