If you're trying to build a career in the City of London now, you might be inclined to feel pessimistic about Brexit. If so, you certainly won't be alone. However, London finance professionals are not entirely unanimous in their opinions on Brexit's likely impact on their careers. In our recent survey of 1,500 London finance professionals, nearly 16% of respondents said they expected Brexit to be either positive or very positive for their futures in financial services.
Who were they? The following categories of respondents were disproportionately likely to say that Brexit will be a good thing for their careers.
Unsurprisingly, people who actually voted to leave the EU were especially optimistic about its impact on their finance jobs. 34% of them told us they're "very positive" about their future careers, and a further 27% said they were positive.
Why was this? One 'leaver' said competition for jobs in the City of London is likely to fall if Britain leaves the European Union and that, "this may even help to increase my overall pay."
Another said the process of leaving is likely to create a lot of transitional work, which will be a good thing. Others pointed to the benefits of market volatility, to corporates' need for advice on the future, and to increased numbers of contract roles to help deal with the transition.
Most leavers pointed out the broader advantages to being outside the EU too. "The EU has always been against the City of London. If we remained, they would gradually suppress it," said one, expressing a common sentiment. "It's 1992 all over again, so-called Black Wednesday will turn out to be a White Wednesday instead," said another.
Ok, consultants aren't exactly bankers, but consultants working with bankers are marginally more likely to be optimistic about their careers: 23% were positive, compared to 16% overall.
"I work in change and will need to work on the new initiatives," said one consultant. "More change means more contract work," said another.
IT consultants were optimistic too. However, many of the consultancy respondents pointed out that benefits are likely to be transitory as the City manages the change - which might explain why 77% aren't so optimistic about the future.
Now that banks' second quarter results have been announced, it should come as no surprise that traders are bullish about their post-Brexit careers. At Goldman Sachs, second quarter fixed income trading revenues were up 20%. At J.P. Morgan they were up 35%.
38% of the traders who responded to the survey though Brexit would be a good thing for their careers. "Traders are most needed in times of uncertainty," said one. "I'm paid in US dollars, so the decline in the exchange rate is good," said another, adding that, "less EU regulatory interference" should be a good thing too.
The big question now is whether the second quarter, 'Brexit boost' will last. Banks were divided on this. Goldman Sachs, for example, said conditions are now normalizing whereas Deutsche Bank said the normal second half trading slowdown won't happen this year and the markets business will go from strength to strength.
Like consultants, business analysts aren't exactly bankers, nor are they exactly super-positive. But they do work in banks and they are more positive than the rest.
23% of the business analysts we surveyed said Brexit should be a career positive. They didn't give any reasons for this, but we surmise that their disproportionate optimism might have something to do banks' need to rework processes and systems in a world where some businesses are no longer based in London.
As we reported previously, US bank employees are more positive than the rest about the impact of Brexit, with 43% saying it should be good for the careers.
None gave any specific reasons for this, but it might have something to so with the comparative health of US banks, who look better placed to face the future, Brexit or not. It's possible that US banks' employees may be more internationally focused than the rest.
Lastly, bankers aged 50+ were more optimistic than the rest (albeit still not optimistic) overall, with 23% saying Brexit will be either good or very good for their careers.
Many in this group also voted leave, meaning that their reasons for optimism were generally the same as those listed above. "Nothing's changed!", said one. "There will be better future growth opportunities outside an oppressive directive-led regulatory regime," said another.