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EY: Banking confidence on the up

23/01/14

A new report from accounting and services firm EY has highlighted optimism among the UK's bankers and financial services workers, suggesting that the country's overall economic recovery could lead to better conditions for the sector.

Although it was somewhat beleaguered with scandal and dropping recruitment levels over the course of 2013, the industry still out-performed many of its counterparts and looks like it is in good shape to expand further in the next 12 months.

The EY European Banking Barometer, a bi-annual study that gathers the views of senior bankers across the main European banking markets, found that British institutions are feeling optimistic about the future.

Omar Ali, EY's head of banking and capital markets in the UK, said lending is set to increase across the spectrum, with more cash to be on offer to businesses and consumers alike.

"After years of tight credit restrictions, banks are now able to be more bullish in their attitudes towards lending across all sectors," added Mr Ali.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they expect macroeconomic conditions to improve across the country, compared to just 56 per cent of their European counterparts. This highlights the fact that Britain appears to be recovering more quickly than many other countries, despite continued concerns over the stability of this growth.

The UK is the only country in which bankers expect to see an increase in lending to all sectors, with smaller firms and companies in commercial real estate, media and telecoms, and healthcare sectors likely to gain a great deal from this improvement.

While the eurozone is expected to experience overall GDP growth for the first time since 2011, lending is still expected to be weak, while consumer credit is also flagging in the area.

Andy Baldwin, global head of financial services at EY, said broad-based economic recovery in Europe depends on a banking system that is both well-capitalised and "able to extend credit when needed".

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