Finance gets some spring into its step

Ben Southwood
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THE UK’S financial sector has enjoyed a welcome confidence boost in the last two months, a survey showed this morning, adding to the upbeat mood at the end of last year.

A majority of 26 per cent of financial services firms said they were more optimistic about the overall business situation in the sector than they were three months ago, a survey from PwC and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed. This upbeat result comes on top of the 27 per cent margin who were feeling positive in December’s survey.

A margin of 32 per cent of firms told the CBI they had upped their output, a drastic turnaround from the five per cent majority in the opposite direction in December’s poll. Investment intentions also saw a reversal, from a wide margin saying they are against improvement to a narrow margin in favour.

Companies have managed to translate this boost to business into healthier fee income – with the total sterling value of fees, commissions and premiums up in a wide majority of cases.

“This has been a strong quarter for the financial services sector, with robust growth in business volumes, an increase in profitability and upbeat investment intentions,” said Matthew Fell at the CBI.

But Fell warned: “Recent problems in Cyprus risk reigniting concerns about Eurozone stability.

“At the same time, regulation and compliance are still likely to be significant drags on business throughout this year.”