Life beyond the referendum: Investment opportunities in UK plc

Market jitters, ahead of the EU referendum vote on 23 June, are at complete loggerheads with what UK company bosses are telling us.

Inevitably, with global growth sluggish, UK growth momentum is slowing from a high base. The pricing environment is tough, with companies having to adjust through greater incentives for customers, or by keeping costs low. But while consumers are cautious over their purchases, and the savings ratio has trended down again, that’s not to say they have stopped spending altogether.

Consumer sluggishness aside, the key to propelling UK growth forward is corporate sector confidence – reflected through investment and innovation. As a country, our ability to innovate pervades the pharmaceutical, digital engineering, electronics and automotive industries. Whilst the labour market is tighter but the cost of finance pretty low, there is a highly favourable environment for British industry to invest and enhance productivity.

The benefits of cheap financing have certainly manifested themselves in the rush of companies that have come to the market in recent times. Since the start of 2013, 150 companies have listed, with a pipeline of promising companies seeking a listing once the uncertainty of June’s vote is out of the way.

So while the Brexit campaign hots up, and both sides release increasing numbers of hurried statistics to support their case, let’s keep our focus on life beyond the referendum. Businesses up and down the country need to ‘keep calm and carry on’. Putting investment on hold, due to uncertainty, risks fuelling a lack of confidence.

And if anyone is in any doubt about which way the great British public will vote on 23 June, take a look at the bookies odds, not the polls. Despite all the campaigning, the odds to remain in the EU have barely changed: 2-1 on we stay in Europe.


Richard Buxton is head of UK equities at Old Mutual Global Investors

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