Growing expectation of a hard Brexit is having damaging impact on City

Wednesday 19 September 2018


  • 25% year on year increase in the number of investment professionals expecting to leave the UK

  • 15% increase in the number of investment professionals who would not encourage foreigners to work in the UK

  • 31% increase in the number of respondents that expect a hard Brexit

  • Over three quarters of investment professionals polled continue to believe that Brexit has deteriorated the City of London’s competitiveness

  • 60% of poll respondents British; 28.5% from other EU countries; 11.5% hold other international passports

CFA UK today released the results of its latest survey analysing how Brexit will affect investment professionals currently working in the UK.


The most significant year on year change in survey responses relates to the form that Brexit may take. Whereas 67% expected a soft Brexit this time last year, just 58% do today.[1] The number that expect a hard Brexit has increased from 17% to 22.5% and the number of respondents that have no view has also increased from 16% to 19.5%. UK respondents are most likely to expect a hard Brexit (26%). EU respondents are least sure about the outcome (24%) and other international passports are most likely still to expect a soft Brexit (72%).


There have been interesting shifts in the responses relating to investment professionals’ plans to continue working in the UK. The number expecting to leave has increased from 9% to 11%, but this is based on a large increase in the number of British investment professionals who now expect to leave (9% up from 5%). The number of EU investment professionals that expect to stay has actually increased (from 43% to 49%) and there has also been a slight increase in the number expecting to leave (16% last year to 17% this year). Overall, the number expecting to stay in the UK has increased from 68% to 69%.


These views are reflected in similar changes in the number of respondents who feel that their job is secure in light of Brexit. Last year, 60% of UK respondents felt their jobs were safe. Now, just 54% feel the same. The 6% decrease in the number of respondents stating that they believe their jobs to be safe is split evenly between those that feel their job is at risk or are unsure. The number of EU respondents who feel that their jobs are secure has fallen from 43% to 39% in the same period.


The survey of more than 800 members (1,100 last year) reveals continuing concern about the future competitiveness of the City. Over three quarters of all respondents (77%) still say that Brexit had deteriorated the competitiveness of the UK as a financial centre. Though the number of EU respondents that believe this to be so has fallen slightly (from 91% to 90%), there have been slight increases among both British (72%) and other foreign passport holders (75%) holding this view.


While the number of respondents that would encourage non-UK citizens to come and work in the UK has remained almost the same (at close to 37%), the number that would not has risen from 28% to 32%, with a matching decrease in the number who were unsure. This trend is common to UK, other EU and other international respondents.


Says Will Goodhart, chief executive of CFA UK: “There’s good and bad news in this year’s survey. The good news is that more investment professionals, especially European investment professionals, expect to continue working in the UK post-Brexit. Yet more of those who were not sure about their intentions last year appear to be deciding to leave. Our survey did not ask them directly for their reasons, but the survey shows an increase in the number of respondents expecting a hard Brexit. Correlation is not causation, but it would be surprising if there was no relationship between these two results.


“It is reassuring that the results around the impact of Brexit on the competitiveness of the UK as a financial centre have not got much worse and, if anything, have improved marginally. My expectation would be that a hard Brexit outcome would see that survey result worsen. Our international respondents – whether from North America, Asia or elsewhere – largely continue to believe that a soft Brexit is the most likely outcome and would probably be surprised and disappointed by a hard Brexit.”



Notes to Editors:

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About the Survey

The survey opened on 20 August 2018 and closed on 4 September 2018. It was open to all CFA UK members and there was a total of 829 respondents.


About CFA UK

Part of the worldwide network of member societies of CFA Institute, CFA UK represents the interests of 11,600 investment professionals in the UK.


[1] Percentages have been rounded to the nearest 0.5%.