By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s financial services grew for the third quarter in a row in the last three months of 2021 and at their fastest pace since mid-2017, even though COVID-19 dampened optimism, a survey of 105 firms in the sector showed.
A year since the Brexit transition period ended, the health of British financial services is being closely monitored after the City of London was largely cut off from the European Union.
“While volumes and profitability growth across the financial services sector remain buoyant, the softening in optimism is something to watch closely, due to increased COVID-19 uncertainty clouding the near-term economic outlook,” CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said in statement.
The survey of 105 financial firms by the CBI employers group and consultants PwC was completed just before fresh restrictions were introduced in Britain last month to tackle spiralling cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
In the first three months of 2022, firms expect activity to remain robust and at a strong pace, the survey found.
Profitability growth is expected to ease somewhat in the coming months, with numbers employed predicted to grow solidly and retaining talent the top workforce priority, it said.
Looking just beyond the first quarter, Britain has said that large companies must disclose climate-related financial data from April 2022 using a globally-agreed set of guidance.
The survey showed that 40% of firms were “somewhat prepared” for April, with 14% saying there were not ready, and remaining companies saying they were fairly or very prepared.
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Alexander Smith)