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Brexit and the City: taking London's financial pulse

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 02:07

Will Britain's decision to leave the European Union in 2019 damage one of its most successful industries? As David Doyle reports, Reuters has created a tracker to monitor six indicators to help assess the fortunes of the City, taking a regular check on its pulse through public transport usage, bar and restaurant openings, commercial property prices and jobs.

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This is London's 'the City', the beating heart of Britain's financial services sector. It's an industry that accounts for around 12 per cent of the UK's economic output. But is it being damaged by Brexit? That's the question Reuters will examine by tracking six indicators - taking the pulse of one of the world's pre-eminent financial centres. Here's what they're telling us so far: Commercial property prices in the City of London have dropped more since the Brexit vote in June 2016 than at any point since 2009 - the last year of the global financial crisis. That's according to Savills, one of the UK's biggest real estate agencies. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF EUROPEAN COMMERCIAL RESEARCH AT SAVILLS, MAT OAKLEY SAYING: "There is definitely a divide down the middle between the bulls and the bears. I would say domestic investors in particular are more pessimistic about the future than non domestic investors." Rents in the City of London have fallen by around five per cent since the Brexit vote, whilst those in Canary Wharf have remained flat. The number of people passing through the two main underground stations serving the City of London is on course for its first fall since 2009. Year-on-year, journeys going in and out of Bank and Monument stations fell by 2.7 per cent in the first eight months of 2017 - according to data from Transport for London. So far Brexit seems to have had no impact on the number of bars and restaurants applying for new alcohol licenses in the City of London. In fact, the number of applications was at a record high in the first eight months of 2017, data from the municipal local authority shows. London City Airport - favoured by executives for flights to European cities and beyond - is facing its slowest growth in passenger numbers in five years. The airport close to the Canary Wharf financial district saw average annual increases of passengers before the Brexit vote of 10 percent. That fell to 0.9 per cent in the first six months of this year. 2017 has witnessed the biggest drop in available jobs in London's financial services industry since 2012, recruitment agency Morgan McKinley says. 51,922 new financial services jobs were created in the first seven months of the year, a ten per cent drop on the same period in 2016. Hakan Enver, a director at Morgan McKinley, told Reuters that businesses are "naturally hesitant" about hiring due to the uncertainty around Brexit. Around 10,000 finance jobs will leave Britain, or be created overseas, over the next few years - a Reuters survey found in September. That's at the lower end of estimates by industry lobby groups and firms, meaning London could keep its place as the top financial centre in Europe, at least in the short term. Reuters will keep monitoring these indicators as the UK heads towards exit day in 2019.

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Brexit and the City: taking London's financial pulse

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 02:07