After the referendum

 

Article from an occasional series of topical thought pieces sent by Head of Global Corporates Clare Francis to Lloyds Bank Business Leaders community.

About the author

Clare Francis

Managing Director, Head of Global Corporates, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking

As we move on from the results of the EU Referendum, I wanted to write to our Business Leaders community with some reflections.

The UK electorate has voted in favour of the UK leaving the European Union and this has significant implications for both the UK and the rest of Europe. It is of course a democratic decision, which we respect. However, we are now moving through a challenging period of change and uncertainty. While the destination is unknown, the journey is already underway.

Like many of you we’re in a position of strength to weather turbulence in our sector and the wider market, so we’re particularly well placed to continue to focus on serving clients. We have been supporting you as you have faced the immediate challenge of volatile financial markets and then moved on to reassess your strategic, business and operational models. As the “Brexit effect” varies according to the sector and market in which you operate, the way we are structured, with expert global and sector specific teams, means we have been able to understand and anticipate your needs and respond quickly.

Over the past two weeks I’ve spoken to many of you personally, and the Global Corporates team has contacted almost all our clients. If I could summarise what you’re telling us it is that you were surprised, but not unprepared. Your immediate priorities have been to manage through short-term volatility and reduce risk, and to communicate with your staff and other stakeholders. Meanwhile you’re refining and implementing your scenario planning and, in some cases, revising projections.

You are also thinking about how to engage on what the business environment will be like outside the EU if Article 50 is triggered. Many of you are telling us that you’re looking at what you can do to inform and support the debate and ensure the voice of business is heard on the renegotiation agenda.

Here at Lloyds Bank, through our Helping Britain Prosper plan, we remain committed to the UK Government’s infrastructure plan. Our recent appointment of Geoffrey Spence, former Chief Executive of Infrastructure UK at HM Treasury, as Lloyds Bank Global Head of Infrastructure, Resources and Energy underlines this. We hope, in the coming months, to be able to facilitate our clients working together to make the case to continue with this plan as infrastructure spend will be crucial to maintaining FDI inflows. We believe this is in the strong interests of all our clients and of the UK economy, and will be vital in maintaining the UK’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

We are continuing to reach out to and assist our investor community globally. We also support calls for business to give a “shot in the arm” to the UKTI, with whom Lloyds Bank already works globally, in order to increase British exports. Our alliance with British American Business will continue at pace as we work hard to support an increasing number of clients in trading successfully between the UK and US despite the political uncertainty that may lie ahead.

The banking industry as a whole is also playing its part. Lloyds Bank has previously taken a leading role, through the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), in bringing the banking industry together to produce research and analysis to lead and inform the debate on unlocking funding for investment and growth in Europe. In the past few days, through AFME, the banking industry has commissioned new work, which we hope will be similarly influential and provide a fact base to help the negotiators in the months ahead.

Finally, reassuring us that business as usual is possible, I would like to congratulate Lloyds Bank client British American Tobacco that, only days after the Referendum, issued a £500 million five-year bond. In doing so it demonstrated the resilience of corporate Britain and that British business, British banks and foreign investors could rise above political uncertainty and turbulent markets.

For more than three centuries Lloyds Bank has been helping businesses though challenging times and we’ll be continuing to do so. I’ll be coming back to you all over the coming weeks and months with further information and insights as we all navigate through this new world.

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