Blog: The City is in decline – but you can’t pin it on Brexit – The Telegraph

But companies have also been off-shoring support staff, investing in IT systems, closing bank branches and shifting online. All these trends have hit UK-based jobs. The success of fintech has played a part too: the more this sector grows the more jobs in traditional finance it replaces. (By the way, that’s what the process of increasing productivity looks like.)

The impact of Brexit on the City has therefore been a microcosm of its impact on the wider economy. It’s part of the mix but by no means the only, or even the most important, challenge. 

One of the biggest drawbacks has been opportunity cost: everyone has spent so long getting their heads round the new trading relationship with the EU that they’ve had less bandwidth to tackle other issues. 

“There is no single reason why the number of jobs in financial services in the UK has been falling for the past few years, but we think there are a number of interconnected factors at work,” says New Financial’s William Wright. 

“The global financial services industry has had a bruising few years, but this effect is not happening in most other comparable markets.”

The research is admirably nuanced. This is to be welcomed when the debate about Brexit has been entirely polarised for the past six years. One side blames it for everything, the other refuses to acknowledge it might even be a problem. The truth lies somewhere in between. 

Are we ready to have a grown-up discussion yet? On the face of it, recent developments don’t give much cause for optimism. 

Over the weekend, reports suggested the Government was open to negotiating a Swiss-style trade deal with the EU. Hardline Brexiteers were predictably indignant – despite many having argued for precisely such an arrangement before the referendum. 

Well, they can rest easy (or continue to be upset, depending on their inclination) because the UK is not going to get a Swiss-style deal. There are two main reasons for this. 

One is that there is no such thing as a Swiss-style deal. The relationship would be far better described as a process of almost constant negotiation involving something like 120 mutable agreements. 

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