Business Level Returns to ‘Normal’, After Several Years in Decline

A survey conducted by the CBI classed the level of activity in the financial services sector as ‘normal’ for the fourth quarter of 2011 after more than four years of lower than usual levels of business.

The quarterly survey conducted by the employers body in conjunction with Price Waterhouse Cooper wasn’t all good news, the information collected showed widespread pessimism in the sector because of potential job losses and continued uncertainty emanating from the Eurozone.

Despite this the volume of business in the UK’s financial services industry was measured at its fastest pace since June of 2007, leading to the level of business being classed ‘normal’ by the survey’s standard, after an extended period at a lower level.

Ian McCafferty, the CBI’s chief economic adviser, said that although it has been strong 3 months “firms are now less optimistic, employment is down and investment intentions for the next year are weaker, as concerns about the global and Eurozone recovery create uncertainty”.

The survey is based on information from 106 financial service providers, 53 per cent said that said that volumes increased in the three months to December, whilst only 24 per cent reported a decrease. This works out a balance of +29 per cent, considerably higher than the widespread expectation of around +5 per cent.

Kevin Burrowes of PwC summed up the findings, saying “Although banks have seen high business volumes and incomes over the recent period, UK austerity, weak household incomes, increased competition, significant regulatory changes and scaling back on employment all point to a challenging year for financial services”..

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