Covid-19, Financial Services and Brexit Britain

06 Apr 17:00 by Laurence Simons Search: Financial Services Team


Last year, Oliver Lewis updated us on the in-house legal landscape within financial services. We are now in post-Brexit Britain and while we may not yet fully feel the effects of the split, we have officially left the European Union. The finality of this general election result brought with it some degree of certainty on our economic and political future. Then COVID-19 arrived and many of us now wonder why we complained about Brexit being broadcasted 24/7 on our news channels!

Let's first look at how Brexit has impacted the legal recruitment market so far. The start of this year saw a noticeable uptick in recruitment, primarily from banks to trading houses and funds. Fund formation, capital markets and securitisation experience have been the most in-demand skills. Brexit and IR35 have changed the structure and locations of many legal teams. Some private equity leaders like Alpinvest have relocated to Amsterdam and Frankfurt is proving a popular choice for broader general banking roles. We have seen redundancies at the junior-mid level, with mass Analyst redundancies in large London banks. In addition to European relocations, some back-office positions are moving to lower-cost centres in Birmingham, Glasgow and Belfast.

One area which has seen a steady increase in volume, regardless of market activity and certainty is privacy. Banks are looking for both privacy subject matter experts and technology lawyers that can undertake a dual technology transactional and privacy role. GDPR has created a large UK based talent pool with this skill-set and we expect growth in this area to continue irrespective of any key European or global changes to the market.

We are fast approaching the eye of storm COVID. We have spoken to leaders within the banking sector who believe that very early stage positions will be placed on hold, but searches that have already been approved and are in process shall continue. Businesses need lawyers to survive. From a practical point of view, many institutions are well versed in using video conferencing as an interview tool so the inability to conduct an in-person meeting should not act as a blocker to hire. The commercial impact of this is that banks, law firms and consultancies can reduce their cost base in the future with a trial run of more agile working. However, there are winners and losers in this situation, and commercial real estate businesses will take this hit on their bottom line. 

Current market conditions will create growth and opportunity in employment, restructuring and tax across both institutions and law firms. Roles shall also change, it will be interesting to see how employees re-engage after being furloughed. One thing is clear; where there is a downturn there is an opportunity. Some of the biggest companies in the world were born during periods of financial hardship, examples include IBM, General Motors, Uber and Whatsapp. Who had heard of the now popular app Houseparty 1 month ago? There are varying opinions on how long the social, commercial and financial impact of COVID-19 will last but we will eventually weather this storm.

Our clients still need lawyers, our clients are still hiring lawyers so please feel free to get in touch. Whether you would like to share your thoughts on the market, discuss your career options or have a general sanity check via a virtual coffee then please contact one of our team here: visit our team page here.  If you would like to learn more about how to stand out on Linkedin, why not register for our free one-hour webinar, 'Harness the Power of LinkedIn with a Winning Profile' on Wednesday 29th April 12:30 pm (GMT).