• Yifan Shen

On Brexit: Reflections on Future of Finance 2021 Conference

Yifan Shen reflects on Future of Finance 2021 Conference's Brexit Panel.


Hosted by 6 of the LARGEST careers societies from leading global universities, Future of Finance 2021 was organised by UCL FinTech Society, LSE SU FinTech Society, LSE PRIS, Imperial Finance Society, Warwick Entrepreneurs Society & King's Business Club.

The speakers


John Shirley, Dover - Shipping Company focused on EU exports


John Shirley is the Founder and Owner of the John Shirley Ltd., which is an international freight forwarder company shipping all across Europe. John speaks 10 languages (English, Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, German, French, Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian and Spanish) that helps him to communicate with the drivers directly. He is also part of the UCL alumni.


Dennis Novy, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Warwick


Dennis Novy is a Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick. He also holds the position of an Associate at the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE. He has published multiple studies in the field of International Economics, Macroeconomics, Economic History and many more including a lot of interesting papers about Brexit.


Iain Begg, Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science


Iain Begg is a Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science. His main research work is on the political economy of European integration and EU economic governance. He has directed and participated in a series of research projects on different facets of EU policy and his current projects include studies on the governance of EU economic and social policy, the economic and fiscal consequences of Brexit, evaluation of EU cohesion policy and reform of the EU budget. Other recent research projects include work on policy co-ordination under EMU and the social impact of globalisation.


Martin Heneghan, Research Fellow, Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Nottingham


Martin Heneghan is currently a Research Fellow on a UK in a Changing Europe project on Brexit and financial centres across the UK. The project is exploring how Brexit will impact the different financial centres of the UK. Will the impact of Brexit be shared evenly across London, Leeds, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Swindon, Northampton and other financial centres, or will those centres on the periphery be differentially impacted?


Before joining the University of Nottingham in March 2020, Martin was a Research and Impact Associate at the University of Sheffield. His doctoral research at the University of Sheffield focused on the role of international organisations in setting the global policy agenda on pensions.


The panel


From the Brexit Panel, speakers ranged from University Professors to the CEO of an EU focused Shipping Company which provided the session with a broad stance on the implications of Brexit. One of the most urgent and interesting topics that was addressed was the relationship between Brexit and Covid and how trade and the economy is impacted by either. As stated by Professor Iain Begg at the LSE, the bigger picture of Brexit is yet to be seen especially as it has only been to-date 9 weeks since the UK officially left the EU, and this has been during the pandemic which has ‘slowed down’ all services and internal processes. This means that there is no clear signal as to what has happened as a result of Brexit when the consequences could be attributed to Covid instead. With the majority of the economy shut down, it would take a while for consumer patterns to match their intended trends if Covid did not occur, and thus ‘it’s not apparent yet how much disruption there will be’ (Martin Heneghan, Fellow at University of Nottingham). There is evidence that firms who often trade tend to have higher wages for their employees, but with trade made harder due to both Brexit and Covid, wages will be depressed and consumer patterns will follow similar trends (Dennis Novy, Professor at University of Warwick). Brexit also brings sector changes in the economy, with industries who relied on exporting to the EU being the worst affected as they are blocked from doing so to a greater degree than they were previously. Although in the current climate, Covid’s travel restrictions tend to overshadow the influence of Brexit. However, the impacts of Covid are only in the short-term where the pandemic and its most destructive effects will likely end when vaccines are given out. This follows the idea that the consequences of Brexit are yet to be seen when Covid is in the picture, but in the long term, there will be a more reliable defined outcome. Therefore, it is suggested in the dialogue that researchers, policy makers and people interested in the effects of Brexit need to be thinking about long-term trends rather than what we currently see and not attribute all evidence, such as the detrimental effects currently faced by the UK economy, to Covid.


The discussion from the panel has left me with a few questions in mind, most noticeably whether the UK can trade with more ease on a global scale in the long-term if they rely less on European countries purchasing their goods and services. I believe that although confidence seems low particularly for UK consumers, this is exacerbated by the pandemic, and in the long-term if the UK could become a larger service exporter on a greater global scale rather than relying solely on European countries, the economy could potentially ‘bounce back’ to a greater extent than what would have been possible without Brexit.


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