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Financial Services Talent Drain Fears as Brexit Vote Looms


A vote to leave the European Union will cause “turbulence” in the City of London jobs market, according to a global talent mapping and pipelining specialist.

Armstrong Craven says the potential upheaval will have a number of consequences for businesses operating in the financial services sector.

Reports in recent days have variously claimed that overseas banks have already begun planning to withdraw thousands of workers to mainland Europe in the event of a vote to pull out of the EU. The accountant, PricewaterhouseCoopers, has forecast that as many as 100,000 financial services jobs could be lost if Britain withdraws.

Brunella Flackett, Senior Client Partner for Financial Services and Private Equity with Armstrong Craven, said:

“We know from our work within the sector how dependent financial services employers are on recruiting talent from the European mainland to come to the City of London. A recent census backed this up – almost 11% of the City’s 360,000 workers come from elsewhere in the EU.

A vote to leave will inevitably see the financial centre of gravity shifting to the mainland with banks and other institutions moving to beef up their operations in major European cities such as Paris and Berlin.

The drain of talent away from the UK will include British workers who see greater career opportunities in mainland Europe. It is also likely, in our ever more global economy, that financial services talent looks further afield too to the likes of Hong Kong and Singapore.”

Brunella added:

“One global financial services client told us about the impact of a reduction in mobility in the event of a vote to leave. EU nationals wanting to work in the UK and vice versa would in future need to apply for visas and sponsorship in order to take up positions.

Another consideration is those British workers who are married to EU citizens and working in European hubs who may suddenly find themselves having to uproot their families and return to the UK. Relocation costs of many businesses in the sector are likely to soar in the event of Brexit.”

Sam Meredith, Client Partner for Financial Services and Private Equity at Armstrong Craven, said:

“For those who choose to remain in the City of London, there will also be opportunities. While it is likely that certain functions will be lost to the mainland, the turbulence caused by a vote for Brexit will almost certainly create roles that need to be filled in the UK.

Of course, Brexit is not the only issue affecting the City of London and world markets in general at the moment. There are continuing macroeconomic concerns surrounding declining commodity prices as well as the slowdown in China. The indecision hanging over Britain’s future within the EU simply exacerbates an already difficult market for those whose livelihoods are dependent on the financial services sector.

While every sector will be affected by the upcoming referendum – whatever the decision – the implications within financial services are perhaps the greatest.

Once the decision is known, financial services organisations will have to quickly assess the landscape and ensure they are doing everything they can to attract and retain the best talent where they need it most.”