Gloom deepens for UK banks: Poll

LONDON • Optimism about the business environment for Britain's financial services firms fell for a fourth consecutive quarter, according to a survey published yesterday - the longest decline since the global financial crisis.

The latest quarterly survey of 103 firms by business lobby CBI and consultancy PwC found sentiment about Britain's overall business climate fell the most since December 2008, with banks especially pessimistic.

As many as 90 per cent of banks surveyed said preparing for the impact of Britain's exit from the European Union was their top challenge.

"Uncertainty has contributed to the low levels of optimism reported by many financial services companies, particularly by the banks," said Mr Andrew Kail, head of financial services at PwC.

Banks have begun signalling how they will put plans into action to cope with a "hard" exit, after Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would leave the single market.

Mr Kail said greater clarity on the British position from Mrs May's speech was welcome, not least with regard to a commitment to a period of phased implementation.

The survey revealed a more optimistic outlook for hiring, with 18 per cent of financial firms saying they had increased employment compared with 10 per cent showing a decrease. Information technology was the biggest area for new jobs.

The survey also said firms considered increasing dialogue with regulators to be their biggest priority as Britain negotiates its EU exit.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2017, with the headline 'Gloom deepens for UK banks: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe