A complete leadership vacuum in UK financial services post-Brexit leaves other EU financial centres salivating as the industry’s 1 million jobs are threatened, says CISI

By Lora Benson | Jul 19, 2016


The UK financial services sector has been lacking a loud, visible champion communicator post-Brexit which is affecting UK sector competitiveness and threatening jobs, says the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI).

In The Review, the CISI’s quarterly member magazine, the CISI notes that for three weeks since the EU referendum on 24 June there has been a complete leadership vacuum in financial services – particularly galling given that it is one of the economy’s most important sectors and “one over which other EU financial centres are salivating at the real prospect of attracting business away from the UK”.

At a time of great uncertainty the City needed a person, or organisation, to provide reassurance, vision, purpose and dynamism, says the article.

Although the regulators have been actively talking to their key constituents and the financial institutions and advisory firms have been contacting their customers and reassuring them, public leadership for the whole financial sector has been missing, according to CISI’s The Review.

“The financial services sector urgently needs an articulate, communicative leader who should be highly visible. He or she should have been giving press interviews, appearing on TV and radio and exploiting social media to the hilt with a constant message, promoting financial services, calming nervous employees and customers, setting out what is needed in future negotiations and expanding on the positive opportunities ahead.

“The last time there was a major uncertainty in the financial sector was in 2007. Then, Angela Knight CBE FCSI(Hon), the passionate, energetic former head of the British Bankers Association and de facto spokesman for the banking and finance sector, was everywhere. On some days she carried the industry’s standard in more than a dozen media interviews. She was regularly on panels and live TV debates, always putting forward the industry’s perspective and plans, giving direction and pushing the case for the sector”, says The Review.

The article goes on to compare this level of activity on behalf of the financial services sector with the reaction to Brexit in 2016: “Where are all the trade bodies, corporations, local MPs and other organisations that represent the constituent parts of financial services?”, says the CISI’s Review.

Simon Culhane, Chartered FCSI and CISI Chief Executive said: “There have been a number of discussions beneath the radar, but that’s not good enough. What the sector needs is a public, loud, visible champion communicator. Instead there has been almost total silence and zero direction or reassurance. It is no wonder that a new body, City United, is emerging to fill the vacuum.

“There are strong winds from Europe now, threatening our sector. Our industry’s one million employees deserve more than fair weather leaders; they deserve men and women who will step up to the plate quickly. If our present captains are not prepared to chart our course to a successful Brexit, as our new Prime Minister and her ‘Ministry for Brexit’ will rightly demand, we – and she – must find and welcome others who are prepared to do so, and quickly.”