Brutal Brexit: The challenges and opportunities for financial comms

The short-term casualties of Brutal Brexit were our political leaders but longer-term ones may well be financial services companies. There should be no complacency in this sector about the challenges ahead.

Brexit creates both challenges and opportunities for financial comms, argues Julian Samways
Brexit creates both challenges and opportunities for financial comms, argues Julian Samways
Financial services companies rely on certainty; the certainty of good investment fundamentals, the certainty of the regulatory regime, the certainty of a single market and the certainty of stable business models. This has now been undermined. 

While stock markets are broadly back to where they were, currencies are not, and the long-term implications for the UK and global economy are serious, with economic growth forecasts already having been downgraded.

Regulation and access to a single market are now in flux and business models are under threat as investors pull money out of European mutual funds, companies reconsider where to base some of their activities and cost pressures rise. 

Not so quietly in the background you can hear hands being rubbed gleefully in Frankfurt and Paris...

Yet there is a silver lining to all this for comms professionals.

Never has their expertise been more needed to navigate these challenges and, in doing, so create opportunities: whether and how much to communicate overall Brexit implications externally, how and when to assuage the concerns of clients, what to tell employees fearful of their jobs being relocated, as well as how to communicate amended business models.

Reassurance is key. 

Financial services companies have been contingency planning for various outcomes for some time, so this level of pre-planning and proactivity needs to be made clear. 

This demonstrates a level of forward thinking highly demanding clients would expect.

It is also important to reinforce a company’s commitment to both the UK and continental Europe, particularly if headquartered outside the continent – the fact is that a presence in, and support of both, are not mutually exclusive. 

Unless there are very specific plans to the contrary, the message should always be business as usual and continued commitment to all the markets in which a company operates.

While it is impossible to truly know what the long-term impact of Brexit will be, regular and optimistic communication to clients and employees as key events continue to unfold will go a long way to providing reassurance at a time when it is most needed.

And at a wider industry level there will also be a need for careful dialogue to ensure the UK does not get left behind in post-Article 50 negotiations, be this across financial services as a whole or within sub-sectors such as banking and asset management. 

The role of industry bodies and their comms teams will be key in both promoting the financial services sector to the wider world and lobbying government and regulators to get the very best post-Brexit deal.

Brexit is a mess of the UK’s own making but strong communication skills will help protect the competitive advantages of individual financial services companies and the sector as a whole as a future outside Europe looms.

Julian Samways is founder and managing director of JPES Partners

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