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Quarter of investment staff in UK unsure of post-Brexit plans

A quarter of UK-based investment professionals are “undecided” as to whether they will stay in the UK after Brexit, according to a new survey.

CFA UK, an association of investment professionals, has surveyed over 1,200 staff to find out

about their plans when the UK leaves the EU.


The survey shows that sentiment has deteriorated among UK-based investment staff since the 2016 Brexit referendum.


Only 65 per cent of respondents plan to continue working in the UK after Brexit, compared with 86 per cent saying they were planning to stay before the referendum.


Eight per cent say they intend to leave after Brexit and 26 per cent of respondents are

undecided.


Of non-British EU nationals working in the UK, only 55 per cent say they plan to stay after Brexit, with 35 per cent undecided.


One in five EU27 nationals working in the UK would recommend working in the UK to non-British professionals and under half of those surveyed felt their job was secure in light of Brexit.


The survey also reveals that 30 per cent of all respondents now think a no-deal Brexit is the most likely outcome, up from 20 per cent a year ago.


Will Goodhart, chief executive officer of CFA UK, says there has “perhaps” been “increasing

gloom” among CFA UK members based on a “much increased” expectation of a hard versus a soft Brexit.


“The dislocation that we might see from a no-deal [outcome] and a potentially more difficult

working relationship between financial services in the UK and the EU might discourage people from continuing to work here,” he says.


Mr Goodhart adds that the amount of time and money firms have spent on preparing for potential outcomes “must mean that there has been less to spend on consideration of useful innovation and other activities that might have been beneficial to clients”.


The majority of respondents in CFA UK’s survey are from institutional front-office roles, with a

significant proportion also in middle-office roles.


Matthew Hudson, chief executive officer of consultancy MJ Hudson, says he has not seen a rise in people leaving the UK because of Brexit in recent months, as preparations were made before the previous deadline in March.


However, he adds that “a number of institutions in London have folk waiting on a plan B list – ready to be sent to the EU as soon as we know what is happening”. “These people have already lined up possible housing and schools for kids,” he says.


He also says that a “surprisingly large number of mostly smaller shops are keeping their heads firmly in the sand, hoping the whole nasty thing might go away”. Recruitment consultants have also seen a drop in demand for London-based roles. “The supply of the talent across Europe considering relocation to London is low,” says Ana Maria Tuliak, principal at Ludgate Search and chair of SMART Working at the Diversity Project.


Ms Tuliak adds that the competition for talent across Europe is increasing, partly because a

number of European countries have announced additional tax breaks for returning expats.

She says marketing and distribution functions have been notably affected.


“Over the past three years, asset managers that had centralised distribution teams based in

London have been building their sales and marketing capabilities in their local markets, with the largest demand for talent across Frankfurt, Zurich, Milan and Amsterdam.”


Harry Warwick, director of Ireland, finance and compliance divisions at Bruin Financial, says he has noted “a marked increase” of candidates looking to relocate from London to Ireland.


“One area in particular that we are seeing high levels of hiring is in the compliance space as the central bank insists on firms appointing a designated compliance officer that is permanently based in Ireland,” he says.


Aaron Crowley, director of Europe, credit and risk management divisions at Bruin Financial, adds that he is seeing a larger proportion of candidates seeking to move to their home countries, notably in Luxembourg and Frankfurt.


Only 5 per cent of those who completed CFA UK’s survey think that Brexit has improved the

competitiveness of the UK as a financial centre.


Nearly a third of British respondents were unsure if they would continue to work in the UK after Brexit, with 14 per cent actively looking for roles abroad.

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