Brexit: ‘Muted response’ in bosses’ strategic planning

The Thomson Reuters survey found 69% of finance bosses had not seen Brexit impact on their strategic planning. Picture: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images
The Thomson Reuters survey found 69% of finance bosses had not seen Brexit impact on their strategic planning. Picture: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images
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More than two-thirds of businesses are yet to change their strategic planning despite the UK’s decision more than a year ago to leave the European Union, a survey of chief financial officers has shown.

Big businesses were vocal in the run-up to the referendum in June 2016 that a vote to leave the EU single market could hit investment and the labour market, with uncertainty lingering over sectors from financial services to the car industry.

The results suggest a relatively muted response from business so far

Laurence Kiddle

• READ MORE: Brexit and EU referendum news

However, the results of a Thomson Reuters survey of 200 chief financial officers across Britain and Europe released yesterday found that 69 per cent had not seen an impact from the vote for Brexit on their strategic planning.

“The results suggest a relatively muted response from business so far – not the knee-jerk reaction that some expected,” said Laurence Kiddle, managing director for the Europe, Middle East and Africa tax and accounting business of Thomson Reuters.

Only 12 per cent of CFOs had investigated moving operations out of Britain, and while one in three said that they expected staff levels in the UK to fall, only about one in five said that they planned to relocate staff as a result of Brexit.

Some are changing their plans in response to Brexit already, with 21 per cent of all CFOs saying they had have held off from expanding in the UK as a result of the vote.

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Earlier this month Royal Bank of Scotland said it will move 150 investment banking jobs to Amsterdam due to Brexit. However, the survey suggests that CFOs are on average sanguine about Britain’s departure from the bloc, and some businesses have highlighted the opportunities for firms in Brexit.

• READ MORE: British banks ‘behind schedule’ in post-Brexit preparations

Swiss private bank Julius Baer is opening three new UK offices as it looks to bank for wealthy residents spooked by the vote, while on Wednesday Amazon ramped up its hiring in Britain despite Brexit.

The survey comes after Britain’s Brexit strategy was jolted by the botched election gamble in June by Prime Minister Theresa May, who called an early vote to strengthen her hand heading into negotiations, only to lose her majority.

Confidence among the CFOs in May’s ability to do a good EU deal for business is just 3.5 out of ten, the survey shows. Pro-Brexit trade minister Liam Fox commands the least confidence, scoring just 3.2.

The CFOs place most trust in finance minister Philip Hammond and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who score 8 and 8.6 out of ten respectively.

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