Last updated: 07:21 / Friday, 3 June 2016
According to Cerulli

Uncertainty Reigns Ahead of EU Referendum

Uncertainty Reigns Ahead of EU Referendum
  • Sales of funds across Europe should be affected if Brexit happens
  • It is unlikely that a Brexit would stop UK asset managers from managing funds sold in the EU

Uncertainly as to the consequences for the UK's fund industry in the event of Britain exiting the European Union is adding to the 'fear factor' ahead of the June 23 referendum, according to a poll conducted for the latest issue of The Cerulli Edge - European Monthly Product Trends Edition.

Nearly 54% of respondents expected sales of funds across Europe to be affected to varying degrees should the UK pull out of the EU, says Cerulli Associates, a global analytics firm. Just over 30% foresaw some hurdles to doing business for up to three years, while 15.4% predicted long-term disruption that would require new distribution and sales strategies. Just under 8% of respondents envisaged difficulties for up to 12 months. The largest individual
grouping--46% of those polled--did not feel that a Brexit would affect sales.

"Cerulli believes that if only half of asset managers' worries about Brexit are justified, then the industry should be firmly in favor of remaining in the EU," says Barbara Wall, Europe managing director at Cerulli Associates, adding that the vast majority of asset managers seem to regard voting to remain as a no-brainer, even if an exit would only cause anxiety and inconvenience rather than a catastrophe.

"Uncertainty abounds, partly due to no one knowing whether a Brexit would result in Britain's relationship with the EU looking more like that enjoyed by Norway, Switzerland, and South Korea, or something else. Nor does anyone know how long the renegotiating of agreements would take. This uncertainty is feeding the 'fear factor'," says Wall.

While it is unlikely that a Brexit would stop UK asset managers from managing funds sold in the EU or prevent sales of funds in the other direction, Cerulli believes that it would be disproportionately expensive for many smaller companies to make the necessary adjustments, and it could threaten the viability of some operations.

"Whether Britain stays in the EU is a matter for the electorate. Many voters will feel the businesses in which they work have given them a strong steer, usually to vote to remain in the EU. Cerulli believes this is because those who would be charged with adjusting for a Brexit have examined this scenario--as far as it is possible to examine it--and can see far more downside than upside," says Wall.