The survey, commissioned by DWF, was completed by 150 C-suites, including CEOs and CFOs, from FTSE 100 companies headquartered in London. These companies spanned nine key sectors including banking, energy, insurance, technology & communications and transport.
The survey was focused on the impact of Brexit but was also able to gain insight on a range of issues including the future of the workforce, business growth and the influence of technology.
Hilary Ross, Executive Partner for DWF London and Head of Retail, Food and Hospitality, said:
"It is clear that the leading businesses in London are preparing for the challenges ahead as we head towards Brexit. Although there is obviously real and growing concern about retaining and attracting talent after Brexit, businesses recognise that by taking steps to ensure they have a diverse and flexible workforce they can protect against this. Additionally, technology is very important as a key driver of growth and the majority of businesses are keen to keep their headquarters in London because of the access to the vibrant start-up scene in the city."
74% of those surveyed this year said they believe Brexit will make it harder to recruit the highest quality of talent from outside of the UK, a 10% increase from 2017. In order to combat this businesses are driving forward plans to increase agility and diversity in their workforce, allowing them to draw from a wider pool of talent.
The benefits of workforce agility are widely recognised by respondents with 83% expecting some proportion of their workforce to be working on a flexible basis in the next five years. Furthermore, almost of two-thirds of respondents believe that the number of differently abled people within their organisations would increase in the next five to ten years.
There is plenty of talent to be found within the UK and with a thriving start-up scene in London businesses are keen to be able to take advantage of having this wealth of talent on their doorstep. Access to the city's start-up scene was the top reason given by the businesses surveyed to have their headquarters in London. This gives London a competitive edge and could be a key differentiator post-Brexit. It also underlines the power of technology to drive forward growth and strengthen London's position as a global business hub.
Respondents to the survey are more positive than last year about the protection of assets in London with 83% saying they are very or somewhat confident that London's economic interests will be protected in the next three years compared to only 56% in 2017. There is also more optimism from businesses regarding the impact of access to the single market on their UK investment strategies, with 50% of respondents saying that there will be no impact to their strategy if the UK does not retain access to the single market and 38% stating that they will invest more – in 2017 the responses were 29% and 25% respectively.