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Outlook 'stable' in financial services

Apr 24
Tags: PwC
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Outlook 'stable' in financial services

Sentiment in the financial services sector stabilised in the first quarter of 2017, thanks to a "broadly resilient" economy, according to the latest quarterly report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Based on the feedback of 98 firms, the survey found that sentiment was unchanged in the banking sector, following four consecutive quarters of decline.

There was an improvement in optimism from the last quarter among building societies, life insurers, insurance brokers and investment managers. Finance houses and general insurers expressed less positivity.

Specific findings showed that nearly one in three financial services firms (30 per cent) had increased employment in the quarter to March, while 19 per cent reported a fall in headcount. The resulting balance of +11 per cent was an improvement from +7 per cent in the preceding quarter.

Another increase is expected in the next quarter (+25 per cent), with all sectors except insurance brokers set to boost employment.

A balance of +46 per cent of firms were planning to increase investment in IT over the next 12 months - down from +58 per cent in December - while a balance of +11 per cent expected increased marketing spend.

Andrew Kail, head of financial services at PwC, noted that businesses in this industry are going through a degree of change that "may feel unprecedented", particularly with regards to competition, technological advancements and preparing for Brexit.

"But invariably businesses are still doing well while having to work harder and smarter to achieve the same outcomes," he continued.

"The survey shows that sentiment has now stabilised among firms, but clearly the economic and political backdrop is affecting how companies feel about the future. In the short-term, firms are still managing to make good returns despite all the uncertainty pervading the general trading environment."

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Image: GordonBellPhotography/iStock

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