UK financial services demand hit by macroeconomic, Brexit uncertainty

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 15, 2019
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Flags of EU and the United Kingdom are seen outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, on Jan. 9. 2019. [Photo / Xinhua]

Total business volumes in the financial services in Britain fell in the final quarter of 2018, its first time in five years, as a result of macroeconomic and Brexit uncertainty, a survey revealed on Monday.

Business conditions between sub-sectors are in a marked divergence, with sentiment holding up among insurers amid a continued expansion in their business volumes, according to the latest survey by the Confederation of British Industry and accountancy firm PwC.

By contrast, the quarterly survey of 84 firms reveals that volumes were flat or falling for banks, building societies and specialist lenders, while investment managers report the steepest fall in activity since the financial crisis, the survey said.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said: "A combination of macroeconomic and Brexit uncertainty, regulatory compliance and global market volatility are taking a toll on the UK's financial services sector. Financial services are a bellwether for the wider economy. The persistent weakness in optimism and the deterioration in expectations sound a warning for the outlook."

The survey predicted overall business volumes fall at a similar pace over the first quarter in 2019. Financial services firms see macroeconomic uncertainty as the most important challenge over the year ahead, ahead of regulatory compliance and preparing for the impact of Brexit, it said.

In the three months to March, overall profitability is expected to fall for the first time in over three years, as a result of a more widespread deterioration in expectations across the industry, according to the survey.

"Continued economic and political uncertainty means last year ended on a more pessimistic note than previous quarters for many working in UK financial services. It's a broad industry, meaning optimism varies between sub-sectors and companies," said Andrew Kail, head of Financial Services at PwC.

"But this survey shows that investment managers, who have been more immediately impacted by volatile stock markets, are gloomiest heading in to 2019," Kail said. 

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