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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

UK rises to third most important country for growth prospects

Despite Brexit, the UK is seen as the third most important country for growth by investment professionals, putting it level with Germany, but behind the US and China, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

UK seen as more important for growth since Brexit vote ©iStock
UK seen as more important for growth since Brexit vote ©iStock

This signifies a rise from fourth place last year, with London second only to New York as the most important city for growth prospects over the next 12 months, followed by Beijing, Shanghai and San Francisco.

Technology and financial industry investors gave a particularly high ranking to the UK, however PwC warn that ‘importance’ may not necessarily be a positive description.

Head of global investor engagement, Hilary Eastman, said: “It’s striking that the UK is now seen as more important for growth. Those focused on the technology and financials industries in particular put the UK among the top three.

“But ‘importance’ may or may not equate to ‘positive growth’ and therefore optimism. Importance could be interpreted in a positive light – that the countries selected would be those expected to grow most or fastest.

“On that basis, the Brexit vote and all the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future relationship with the EU appear not to be deterring investors.

“However, some investment professionals we spoke to saw that ‘importance’ could also be interpreted in a negative sense – that problems and greater volatility in the UK, for example, could have an important effect on slowing down companies’ growth.”

The study involved interview responses and data analysis from more than 550 global investment professionals, and over 1,300 CEOs worldwide, during November and December last year.

It was found that 45% of investors and analysts are very confident about global economic growth, up from 22%, however, uncertainty remains globally.

Geopolitical developments are perceived as the top threat to company growth prospects, with protectionism, the future of the Euro zone and social instability all ranking highly.

“Investment professionals around the world are upbeat about global economic growth prospects, despite recognising the shifting political landscape in which companies operate,” Eastman continued.

“They certainly don’t expect the globalisation process to stop or be reversed. But like CEOs, investors do think it is becoming harder for business leaders to balance competing in an open global marketplace with trends toward closed national policies.”

The research also found that 19% of investment professionals believe technology will completely reshape competition within five years, and 85% expect automation to reduce company headcount.