COVID, Brexit & flexible working:
Business confidence survey 2021

Business confidence survey - Feb 21

Having made it through 2020, perhaps far more successfully than any of us thought possible in March of last year, we wanted to take the temperature of our contacts regarding business confidence.

2020 will forever be etched in our minds for the tragic loss of life, the rapid changes to many business models, the anxiety of job insecurity, and the difficulties of home schooling for both parents and children. We actually sent out this survey in January, which for many was the worst point over the last 12 months. The weather was awful, the potential for Brexit confusion lingered, the isolation and monotony of full-time homeworking wasn’t working for many, and there was no guidance on lockdowns ending. However, the responses we received are inspiring. Perhaps showing the optimism, dynamism, and resilience of the human race and the industry we support.

Many of those we’ve surveyed feel they won’t be reducing their office space, even if they use it differently. Most people can’t wait to meet clients again and to go back to offices, even if only some of the time. I think the message is “we want the old normal, but a more agile and trusting relationship with colleagues”. I believe that the happiest time for many was last summer when they were able to attend the office occasionally and to meet clients. A lack of face to face meetings/prospecting opportunities is a problem. However, it is clear confidence is increasing, and I suspect if we ask the same questions again in March, we’d receive an even more positive response.

Financial services has been very fortunate in that it’s most been immune to the economic headwinds we’ve seen elsewhere. I think the industry could be about to go through a very exciting period of innovation and growth once COVID dissipates – I hope I’m right.

Simon Roderick, MD Fram Search

Business confidence survey - Feb 21
My quiet optimism is based on the resilience shown in the past by the financial services industry.

From the comments, it is clear that the mood is cautiously optimistic, with emphasis on cautious.

There were no notable differences between the various industries surveyed, with the exception of wealth management, where the average score was 59.

My main worry is Government caution in returning to normal and also the tendency to hyperactivity and meddling.
Business confidence survey - Feb 21 Business confidence survey - Feb 21

Whilst Brexit is clearly a considerable concern for the FS industry, COVID restrictions, the general economic outlook and regulatory pressure were all more frequently cited concerns.

With regards to Brexit, the Insurance industry were most likely to be concerned, with an average score of 46.

Brexit will provide excellent new opportunities.

I expect business to decrease due to a combination of COVID and the increased invest required vs loss of profit due to Brexit.
Business confidence survey - Feb 21
40% of Wealth Management respondents expected an increase, whilst the Banking and Insurance industries were the least optimistic at 10% and 20% respectively.
Business confidence survey - Feb 21 Business confidence survey - Feb 21
No notable differences between the various industries surveyed, with the exception of Insurance, where 40% of respondents expected a reduction of office space. Wealth and asset management were the industries most likely to increase office space.
We are already in the office a couple of days a week and envisage a 3/2 or 2/3 split as part of flexible working moving forward.
Business confidence survey - Feb 21
I am using zoom but its a poor substitute for face to face meetings and seminars.
Business confidence survey - Feb 21
Working from home in a vacuum with increased demands from clients for advice and reassurance is very challenging.
Business confidence survey - Feb 21

About Fram Search

Established in 2010 by Simon Roderick, a recruiter with 20 years City recruitment experience, Fram Search is a specialist boutique financial services recruitment consultancy. We focus on permanent and interim recruitment in the UK & internationally with most of work being experienced hires through to the marzipan layer.

For further information, please contact: Beate Oera, Head of Operations, t:01525 864 372, e:boera@framsearch.com.

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