Financial services report recovery as sustainable investment message spreads



The UK’s financial service sector is growing at its fastest rate since the recession, according to the leading business lobby group CBI.

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With a survey of more than 100 financial services firms, CBI found that 60% say business volumes were up in the three months to September. 

Furthermore, 63% said they expect this growth to continue into the next quarter, while 21% said they felt more optimistic about the future of their business than they did three months ago.

Some 24% of firms also said they had hired more staff over the three month period, after a fall in headcount in the previous quarter. 

This upturn occurred even in the face of a record spike in operating costs, CBI noted.

The results indicate the sector is on the up after a difficult period in 2007-2009, when many firms were forced to cut jobs after the financial crisis hit the industry hard.

“The UK’s financial services sector is enjoying its strongest run of growth since 2007, with activity rising across all customer categories and profitability bouncing back,” said Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director for economics.

“The spike in costs was off-set by a steep fall in the value of non-performing loans, suggesting that much of the fall-out from the financial crisis is now working its way out of the system.”    

“With strong broad-based growth, financial services firms are relatively upbeat about future prospects, despite some big geo-political risks that remain on the horizon.” 

This optimism is also felt within the ethical and sustainable financial services sector, the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) has said. 

“We’re seeing very encouraging signs in the sustainable finance sector. I’m aware of companies recruiting, of marketing efforts being increased and of continuing work on thought-leadership,” said UKSIF chief executive Simon Howard. 

“There is definitely a better feel to things compared to two years ago.”

In the coming weeks, UKSIF will seek to build on the positivity in the sector while promoting sustainable finance with its flagship event Good Money Week.

The national awareness campaign, running from October 19-25, will see a range of events held across the country to encourage all makers of financial decisions – from investors to banking customers – to make good money choices.

“There are now an enormous number of ways for individuals to engage with their money and ensure their financial decisions can have a positive impact on the world,” Howard explained.

“Responsible investment has in the past mistakenly been perceived as a niche area. The recognition by financial experts of the risk to value stemming from factors such as climate change or unpopular tax structures, combined with growth in areas such as community funding for renewables and crowd funding, show why this is the right time to get people thinking about their finances in a broader way.” 

Further reading:

Good Money Week goes live with new website

The sustainable investor is no longer marginal

Breaking the eight myths of sustainable and responsible investment

Ethical IFA of the week: Ethical Futures

Ethical IFA of the week: Lee Coates


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