15 November 2016

  |  CBI London


Bye Bye Brexit Blues?

CBRE MD Adam Hetherington highlights why London will continue to prosper in a post Brexit world.

Bye Bye Brexit Blues?

This month, as I addressed a packed audience of 300 core clients at CBRE's bi-annual Breakfast Briefing, I felt buoyed.  We’ve seen a green light for a third runway at Heathrow, higher than expected GDP figures, Axa pressing ahead with construction of 22 Bishopsgate and the UK’s biggest float of the year saw Convatec listing on the London Stock Exchange. This is all fighting talk for London and beyond. 

The September CBI/CBRE survey also revealed that for London businesses, investment and hiring intentions remain resilient - over two fifths (41%) of firms said they plan to maintain their investment plans, and half (50%) plan to continue to hire after the Referendum.

The truth is the fundamentals of London have not changed which is why, despite some uncertainty around Brexit, London will continue to prosper, upheld by four key elements:

Financial Services: London has the most pre-eminent financial centre in the world. The concentration of financial skills and experience, coupled with expertise in professional services, are not easily replicated. Faced with a loss of access to certain EU markets, financial services firms will innovate and diversify to develop a leading share in other activities.

Knowledge based industries: Technology, life sciences and professional services are key to London’s resilience.  This was evident when the creative and technology sectors fuelled economic growth as London emerged from the last recession. Arguably, with the continued growth in high growth sectors such as technology and life sciences, London’s economy has become more diversified and therefore more resilient.

Culture and education: According to Eurostat, 69% of London’s workforce, over 21 years old, have had a tertiary education and 53% are graduates. This is significantly higher than any other European city. London universities nurture this creative and scientific talent whilst also acting as research and development hubs. London has four top 100 globally ranked universities – more than any other city, an honour it shares with Hong Kong. It has twice as many top ranked universities as Paris and Munich – the next highest ranked European cities.

Liveability: The fact is that London has the key credentials which make it a city where people want to live. Following years of decline, London’s population started to grow again in 1989 and since 2009 the population has grown by an average of 111,000 per year.

As the great Charles Darwin once said: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” This constant innovation and its ability to change and adapt is what I believe characterises the resilience of London.

Adam Hetherington, London Managing Director, CBRE