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“No-one is being pressed to make decisions at the current time,” stated James Rust, a founding partner of Leathwaite, the specialist human capital solutions consultancy.

“We have spoken to a broad range of financial services organisations over the last week and the message is clear – firms are taking their time to assess the response of the UK government prior to making any fundamental changes to their organisational strategy.”

Firms were prepared for a ‘leave’ vote

Only 12% of the companies surveyed stated that internal company communication post-Brexit had been poor, with over half stating that “they were very pleased with their company’s response to Brexit, emphasising that it was clearly defined and well communicated from the top down.”

56% also confirmed that they had a robust contingency plan in place in preparation for a potential “leave” vote, with just 16% stating that they had not developed a plan as “they were convinced that the UK would remain with the EU.”

Retaining top talent is a primary concern

However, a number of the respondents highlighted that one of their primary concerns is their ability to retain their top talent.

“Up to 50% of the workforce within our London office consists of non-UK citizens,” stated one respondent. “The future for these individuals is unclear. Will they be able to continue their career within the UK? This is a question on which people want to receive clarification.”

An additional perspective is that no matter whether the non-UK citizens are able to remain working in the UK, will they want to remain in a country that has voted out of the EU?

In either case, it is highly conceivable that if this population begins to exit the UK it may lead to skills shortages across several business functions.

London will remain as a premier destination

“Remaining in London” was another underlying message that came through in the survey. London’s business, lifestyle and locality all held substantial advantages over other cities, including Dublin, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Paris.

Summary of statistics:

1. What is the likelihood that your role may be relocated outside of the UK?

Brexit questions - charts - q1 - web

2. What is the likelihood that you would relocate outside of the UK?

Brexit questions - charts - q2 - web

3. How would you rate the internal Brexit communication within your company?

Brexit questions - charts - q3 - web

4. Did your company have a contingency plan in place for Brexit?

Brexit questions - charts - q4 - web

Additional comments

We also received a selection of comments, some of which are highlighted below:

  • Unexpected result – we were in a state of shock
  • Concerned over the impact on non-UK workers in our offices
  • Increased transformation as a result of the vote
  • We wanted to remain – that’s not the case – need to accept it and move forward
  • BAU!
  • There has been no talk of a hiring freeze or roles going on hold. Roles might go to Ireland or Luxembourg though
  • It’s going to be a messy and bitter extraction process
  • We’re not making any quick decisions as other countries might now decide to follow the UK
  • Will be unlikely to move roles outside of the UK for five years or so

Summary

The individuals who were interviewed were all consistent in their assessment that “Brexit will take years,” and it was essential for organisations to send out a clear message of “business as normal,” with a clear desire to retain their operations within the UK.

The volume of change that has impacted the financial services industry over the last decade has meant that “disruption has become the new norm” with companies taking change in their stride, continuously adapting to their new surroundings.

Overall there was a message that “no-one knows how to react to what’s happening – it’s changing minute by minute.”

As a result, firms appear willing to sit tight for now to enable the dust to settle and provide them with an opportunity to observe and assess the potential changes to the economic landscape.

More information

Leathwaite will continue obtaining more information regarding how Brexit is impacting the UK financial services industry and will publish additional findings in the coming months.