How will Brexit impact on talent and investment?

The repercussions of the UK’s decision last June to leave the European Union (EU) continue to dominate the headlines. However the truth is that at this stage the full impact of Brexit on the country’s financial and fintech sectors is difficult to predict. One thing is clear, however: the UK’s global competitors are already lining up to seize the opportunity created by this period of uncertainty.

Paris, Berlin and Geneva in particular, are leading the way in attempting to lure Britain’s top talent from London. However, other cities such as Dublin, Amsterdam and Frankfurt are also promoting themselves as alternative destinations for talented individuals who are looking to make their mark in fintech and tech roles.

Some media reports have suggested that a post-Brexit London won’t be able to cope with this increased competition, but evidence suggests that London continues to thrive as a tech and fintech hub. According to business-to-business (B2B) consultancy CMFG, the UK – and London in particular – remains a critical fintech global sector, with only the US and China seeing higher levels of investment in 2016. This is largely because of the convergence of skilled talent and venture capital that saw over half of all European fintech investments centred in London.

This news is especially encouraging for small firms and start-ups. Headcount reductions might be sweeping across the big banks and other large financial organisations, but that means a strong pool of talent is beginning to emerge for more agile firms to snap up. Post-Brexit access to talent and the restriction of free movement from EU countries remains a concern, of course, but if access to European talent ends up being restricted, this pool of “home-grown” talent could help to fill this gap.

The result is a win-win situation for applicants and firms alike: businesses will be able to draw from a supply of innovative and accessible workers, and job-seekers will be able to consider multiple employers before choosing a position that best matches their needs and experience.

Attracting investors

Another main post-Brexit concern is investment. Many fear that Britain will become isolated from Europe and the rest of the world and thus become an unattractive option for national and international investors. Many recent examples, however, would suggest the contrary. Global money app Revolut, for example, recently raised £10m (US$1.22m) in a 10-hour crowdfunding campaign. Another start up, the London-based blockchain specialist SETL, has raised US$39.5m from angel investors since Britain’s departure from the EU.

Meanwhile, larger companies are also demonstrating continued belief in London. For example, the Japanese firm, SoftBank, has announced plans to run a US$100bn global tech investment fund out of London, and IBM has confirmed it will triple its number of datacentres in the UK from two to six.

Developments such as these indicate a bright future from both a business development and recruitment point of view. London’s location, matched with its status as not only a financial and tech hub, but also a political, social, cultural and legal powerhouse ensures that it remains one of the most exciting destinations for talent, whether this be from Britain or elsewhere.

Of course, this is not to say that Brexit will not impact on treasury and finance professionals. There is every chance that it could. For a search firm such as Athelstan, however, demand for talent remains very high in both our candidate network and within our clients’ organisations, especially in high-growth areas like fintech.

All in all, there is little reason so far to believe that Britain’s exit from the EU means an imminent downfall for London as the financial capital of Europe. Ongoing investment has stayed strong in the face of Brexit and whilst some organisations may choose to relocate to the continent, there are still plenty of opportunities for talented employees in the UK, as well as the firms looking to employ them.

 

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Mark Carney Bank of England

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