Brexit: a view from the road

In the last couple of months, I’ve travelled the country presenting my investment views on Brexit to hundreds of IFAs at seminars and conferences. While the thoughts and opinions of the audiences have varied significantly, one factor has united them all: the acknowledgement that the outcome of this referendum is incredibly important. 

So, as the vote is now just six days away and to conclude my series of Brexit blogs, I thought I’d share some of the main talking points I’ve had while out on the road – I’ll leave you to decide what they may suggest for next week’s vote.

The salient factors for deciding on whether we’re better off in or out of the EU can be boiled down to five areas:

  • Immigration
  • Financial contributions and benefits
  • Future foreign direct investment flows
  • Trade and tariffs
  • Financial services.

Many of these are misunderstood; shrouded in misinformation by both the ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ campaigns. We’ve dug beneath the surface of these issues and have been basing our Brexit presentations on the reality, rather than the rhetoric.

Without a doubt, immigration was the tinderbox that ignited most audiences. Britons are traditionally reluctant to talk about this subject, but this wasn’t the case out on the road. So when I presented the economic evidence that EU migration has actually boosted UK GDP, I could see people’s hackles rise. I’ve never been heckled before, so I had to adapt quickly - having the benefit of a microphone does gives you an edge. I was confronted by quite a few animated delegates who at best questioned official statistics and at worst aired sentiments that some could view as distasteful.

Concerns were raised about Turkey’s ascension to the EU and its potential for mass migration. In reality, the country is probably decades away from joining the EU unless the rules change significantly.

I did find that the further I travelled from London, the more eurosceptic the audience became – 50/50 in the regions, 70/30 in London.

While most of my presentations were to financial advisers, my final presentation was to a group of Devonshire businesspeople. Before my presentation, the room was 52% remain and 48% leave. At the end, 55% voted in favour of exiting, while 45% wanted to stay - this was despite my pro-immigration message.

It appears that when you strip away the rhetoric more people are inclined to vote to leave.

One mortgage adviser asked me if I thought interest rates would rise if we leave (for the record, I think rates will fall). If so, he said he would vote remain. He was apologetic (an interesting nuance), but said this could undermine the housing market and ultimately affect his livelihood. His vote was down to an issue that was most relevant to him and for most people, there is probably one key reason that resonates with them that will ultimately sway their vote.

The main trend I noticed was that the number of people voting to leave after my presentations tended to rise, despite the fact that they were intended to be neutral presentations of the facts. We also discussed the potential ‘Plan B’ should we leave, given there was no real detail on this from either campaign.

In a nutshell, ‘Plan B’ is probably easier monetary and fiscal policy to encourage business expansion and retain and then attract new foreign capital. This, together with strong governmental leadership, will be needed to restore the confidence that will surely erode if we leave. We will also almost certainly be staring down the barrel of a cut to our sovereign credit rating.

It has been great presenting on a subject that stirs such widespread and inclusive debate and I’ve certainly learned new skills in managing audience dissent - having said that, I’m now well and truly Brexited out...!

To think, after 23 June, come what may, we can move on to the race for the US presidency. My autumn roadshows will probably be titled Trumponomics: walls and protectionism.

Important legal information

This area of the site is for professional advisers

Please read this page before proceeding, it explains certain legal and regulatory restrictions applicable to the distribution of this information. It is your responsibility to inform yourselves of and to observe all applicable laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdiction.

This section of the website is directed only at investment advisers and other financial intermediaries who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The information provided in this site is directed at UK investment advisers only and must not be circulated to private clients or to the general public. It does not constitute an offer to sell, or solicit an offer to purchase any investments by anyone in any jurisdiction in which such offer or solicitation is not authorised or in which a member of the Rathbone Group is not authorised to do so.

I confirm that I am an investment intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. I have read and understood the legal information and risk warnings below:

Important Information (Terms and Conditions)

The information contained on this site is believed to be accurate at the date of publication but no warranty of accuracy is given and the information is subject to change without notice. Any opinions or estimates included herein constitute a judgement as of the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. Furthermore, no responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of any information contained within sites provided by third parties that may have links to or from our pages.

Rathbone Investment Management Limited ("RIM") is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered Office: Port of Liverpool Building, Pier Head, Liverpool L3 1NW. Registered in England No 01448919.

In accordance with regulations, all electronic communications and telephone calls between Rathbones and its clients are recorded and stored for a minimum period of six months.

The information provided in this site is directed at UK investors only. It does not constitute an offer to sell, or solicit an offer to purchase any investments by anyone in any jurisdiction in which such offer or solicitation is not authorised or in which a member of the Rathbone Group is not authorised to do so.

In particular, the information herein is not for distribution and does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of any offer to buy any securities in France and the United States of America to or for the benefit of United States persons (being resident in the United States of America or partnerships or corporations organised under the laws of the United States of America or any state, territory or possession thereof).

In order to comply with money laundering and other regulations, additional documentation for identification purposes may be required.

Rathbones shall have no liability for any data transmission errors such as data loss, damage or alteration of any kind including, but not limited to, any direct, indirect or consequential damage arising out of the use of services provided or referred to in this website.

Past performance should not be seen as an indication of future performance.

The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested, particularly if your client does not continue with the investment over the longer term.

Changes in the rate of exchange between currencies may cause the value of an investment to go up or down.

Interest rate fluctuations are likely to affect the capital value of investments within bond funds. When long term interest rates rise the capital value of units is likely to fall and vice versa. The effect will be more apparent on funds that invest significantly in long dated securities. The value of capital and income will fluctuate as interest rates and credit ratings of the issuing companies change.

Tax levels and reliefs are those currently applicable and may change and the value of any tax advantage will depend on individual circumstances.

Investing in emerging markets or small companies may be potentially volatile, as these investments are high risk.

The design, text and images are owned, except as expressly stated by members of the Rathbone Group. They may not be copied, transmitted, displayed, performed, distributed, licensed, altered, framed, stored or otherwise used in whole or in part or in any manner without the written consent of Rathbones except to the extent permitted and under the procedures specified in the copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and then only with notices of Rathbones' rights.

Rate this page:
No votes yet