Are you ready for Brexit’s challenges and opportunities? by Gail McManus

10 January 2019 | Gail McManus, Managing Director

In our recent survey, 1,144 finance professionals working in London responded to our questions about how Brexit was likely to affect their future career plans, the firms they work for and the industry in general. The results gave a stark warning for retention and recruitment in UK private equity and indicates a wealth of opportunity for firms based in continental Europe.


The survey results

To see the detail, you can download the full report.
Here are some of the headlines:

  • Two thirds of EU nationals said they have plans to leave the UK – 90% said their decision was influenced by Brexit
  • Nearly a quarter of British nationals said they had plans to leave – 70% said their decision was influenced by Brexit
  • Respondents said recruitment would be hardest hit, with over half of Partners and Directors saying that Brexit was already having an impact on their ability to recruit
  • Over half of Partners and Directors within private equity said there was at least some likelihood of some operations moving from the UK to another EU country within the next five years

Retaining EU talent

UK private equity is a market that’s resilient to shock, takes a long-term view and is known for opportunism in times of financial unrest, so there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic in the face of Brexit. However, it would be remiss to ignore the brewing feelings of insecurity among EU nationals.

Keeping channels of communication open is crucial during times of uncertainty. While it may be tempting to stay silent on the subject of strategy until the path ahead is clearer, now is the time to talk your teams through all possible scenarios. Doubt can be a strong motivator and, with little information coming from leadership, individuals may make up their own minds about the future of their role in your business.

Attracting the best talent

Recruitment was the area of private equity respondents said would be most affected by Brexit. With the private equity candidate pool likely to be diminished, you need to think about how attractive your firm is to the most talented professionals. Despite some doom-mongering, London should remain an active financial centre; make sure you get your pick of the talent that is keen to stay or  enticed to come here by demonstrating an investment strategy that will appeal to a wider European market.

Clients with overly specific search criteria may miss out when there’s a smaller pool of candidates. Think carefully about the requirements of the role and consider the range of skills and experience that could benefit your business.

Looking to the continent

Firms with offices in continental Europe are set to gain from Brexit. If they’re smart, they’ll take advantage of an influx of talent that will be coming from the UK. According to our survey, firms with operations in Switzerland, France and Germany will be the biggest winners as these are the most attractive destination for those looking to move.

We’ve seen the truth of our survey findings in some of our more recent mandates. The UK is looking less attractive for EU nationals, particularly at senior levels.  And at the more junior end, we’ve been able to put together some fantastic shortlists for roles across the DACH region, as talented professionals from London seek to move to this European private equity hub.

Get in touch

Our expert consultants are here to help on any and all of these issues, including team retention, compensation benchmarking, recruitment planning and shortlisting criteria across Europe.  We’ve been in this business for 20 years and have a wealth of experience in finding the best people both during the good times and when the market for talent has been rather more turbulent.

About the author

Gail is the Managing Director and founder of PER, setting up the business in the late 1990s after a career in private equity at 3i.

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