Though Brexit has brought about a lingering air of uncertainty, there are some parts of the economy that are doing their best to remain steady. In this week’s Brexit Tracker, the U.K. startup scene is holding its own, small businesses are poised for global growth and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) continues to keep a close eye on Brexit and vulnerable consumers.
Here’s a look at some of the latest Brexit-related news …
VC Funding Holds Strong
A new report revealed that U.K.-based startups raised $1.04 billion in venture capital (VC) during the first three months of 2017. While it’s a slight decrease from the $1.17 billion raised during same period one year ago, it is still well above the amounts raised in each of the last three quarters.
Nine months post the historic Brexit vote, it looks as though the U.K. startup scene is holding its own when it comes to funding.
Peer-to-peer lending service Funding Circle helped push the U.K. into the number one spot, raising $97 million in VC funding and $43 million in debt funding during the first three months of 2017.
The U.K. remains number one in Europe for funding raised, Venture Beat reported, with Germany coming in at $779 million and France snagging third place with $665 million. France seems to be attracting more deals for earlier-stage companies, but with the country in the midst of a contentious election, time will tell how France’s economic policies and relationship with Europe is affected.
Global SMEs’ Confidence
BDRC Continental released research this week that revealed small businesses in the U.K. that go global will be especially poised for growth, supporting predictions that it’s going to be a strong year for U.K. SMEs despite political and economic uncertainty.
According to the data, more than a third of SMEs surveyed in the first quarter of 2017 reported growth over the past year, and nearly half said they were planning to grow.
“The early months of 2017 have seen something of a change amongst this group, with lower levels of concern, and they remain more likely to be planning to grow,” summarized BDRC Continental Director Shiona Davies in a statement. “Future appetite for finance does, though, remain lower than previously seen.”
The businesses with a global view, though, are even more likely to see success, researchers found, with 52 percent of exporting SMEs planning to grow — up from 41 percent in Q4 2016. The figure is even higher — 67 percent — for businesses that both import and export.
“Whilst for most SMEs, especially those who do not trade internationally, it appears to have been ‘business as usual,’ we did see increasing concern among international SMEs toward the end of 2016,” Davies noted. But even in the midst of Brexit, there was little change in levels of concern among international SMEs with regards to the economy and political uncertainty — while both of these topics were concerning to global SMEs in the last quarter of 2016, researchers said that concern has not been carried over into the new year.
UK Watchdog Sets Sights On Brexit
The FCA published its “business plan” and made a statement pledging to be both more bold and transparent, The Financial Times reported.
During the next financial year, the regulator said the top two priorities on its to-do list are vulnerable consumers and Brexit.
“The U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union creates uncertainty for both the U.K.’s financial industry and the FCA,” FCA Chief Executive Andrew Bailey stated in the business plan.
“Both we and the government are keen to ensure that the financial services industry remains resilient and well placed to meet users’ needs and thus make the most of opportunities in a post-Brexit world. Leaving the EU inevitably creates a higher risk of disruption to our business plan priorities. So it is particularly important that we retain the flexibility to respond swiftly should we need to review them further,” he continued.
The FCA also said it will focus on helping consumers with the 2019 deadline for claiming compensation on mis-sold payment protection insurance, dealing with payday lenders and high-cost credit, among others.