Brexit two years on: survey results

1 in 10 personal investors who voted Remain would now vote Leave despite a dramatic loss of confidence in Theresa May.

  • 5% of personal investors tell us they voted Remain but would now vote Leave (as opposed to 2% going the other way)
  • Confidence in Theresa May’s negotiations falls from 80% two years ago to less than 20% today
  • Personal investors are evenly split on the concept of a Customs Union – but nearly two thirds believe this would fail to satisfy the Referendum result

Our survey with responses from over 1,500 personal investors, reveals that an increasing number of people would change their vote if the EU referendum was held again today knowing what they know now. In fact, nearly 8% of personal investors would switch their vote. The real surprise though is that despite the continued uncertainty surrounding the final Brexit agreement, more than double the proportion would switch from Remain to now vote Leave (5%) than would switch from Leave to Remain (2%). This shift could be related to the performance of the market which has risen steadily since the EU Referendum result and personal investors may therefore feel more confident that their investments would not suffer as much as perhaps they had anticipated.

The analysis also reveals that personal investors have suffered a dramatic loss in confidence in Theresa May’s ability to negotiate a good Brexit deal. At present, less than one in five (19%) have confidence in the Prime Minister when asked about her ability to deliver a strong Brexit – a number which has significantly fallen from 80% immediately after the referendum and 66% in July of 2017 when we posed the same question to personal investors.

In regards to the ongoing negotiations, personal investors were evenly split on whether the Government should be negotiating to stay in a Customs Union arrangement. However, interestingly, nearly two thirds (63%) believe that this would not satisfy the overall result of the referendum. Furthermore, investors were evenly split on whether having a Customs Union arrangement will or will not have a negative impact on the economy, with as many investors believing other trade deals will outweigh any negative impact as compared to those who believe the negative impacts of failing to negotiate such an arrangement will dominate.

Richard Stone, our Chief Executive, said of the findings:
“We have conducted a similar survey of personal investors views regularly over the last two years and this latest poll shows the stark loss of confidence in Theresa May’s ability to negotiate a strong Brexit deal with less than one in five personal investors now confident she can do so. However, despite this, the experience of personal investors since the EU Referendum, a period during which the stockmarket has risen to new highs, means that the balance of opinion has shifted more heavily in favour of leaving the EU with 5% of personal investors saying they voted Remain but would now vote Leave – almost 1 in 10 of those who voted Remain indicating they would now change their mind."

*The Share Centre surveyed 1500 of its customers anonymously online between 15/06/18 and 18/06/18

Further results

  • Only 25% of personal investors said Brexit has had a negative impact on their investments despite 86% expecting a negative impact prior to the Referendum
  • 56% of trades at The Share Centre in two years since vote have been ‘buys’ indicating investors not put off by experience
  • Concerns remain in the lead up to the UK leaving the EU in March 2019 with over a third of investors planning to change behaviour in that time

Our survey showed that three quarters of personal investors said the EU referendum has had a positive impact or made no difference to their investments in the two years since the vote. This number compares to 86% of personal investors expecting a negative impact or no difference to their investments when asked the same question prior to the referendum.

56% of trades we executed in the two years since the vote were ‘buys’* demonstrating that investors have so far not been put off by the immediate volatility the result of the referendum caused in 2016. Moreover, the top 10 purchased companies in the last 24 months are formed of a mix of income generative blue chips such as Lloyds Banking, Vodafone and GlaxoSmithKline as well as smaller, higher risk stocks including Sirius Minerals and UK Oil and Gas Investments.

Despite their relatively positive experience to date, personal investors’ concerns have not completely dissipated. 60% of those asked believe the lead up to leaving the European Union will have a negative impact on the stockmarket and over a third (35%) said they are already changing, or are planning to change, their investing behaviour in the lead up to the 29 March 2019.

On one of the key topics currently under debate – whether or not the UK Government should be negotiating to remain in a Customs Union arrangement with the EU post Brexit, personal investors are evenly divided as to whether leaving without such an arrangement will have negative economic consequences or whether trade agreements with other nations will offset any negative impacts.

Richard Stone said of the findings;

“We have regularly sought personal investors’ opinions on Brexit both in the lead up to and since the Referendum. For most personal investors rising markets since the Referendum result have driven portfolio values up and generally improved sentiment. It is certainly the case that personal investors’ fears of the impacts of a vote to Leave on the stockmarket have not materialised. However, fear has not gone away with a majority expecting a negative impact on markets as the leaving date approaches and over a third looking to alter their investment behaviour as a consequence.

These opinions reinforce our view that markets will be more volatile over the months ahead and will be more prone to movements driven by sentiment and reporting of the latest twists and turns of the Brexit negotiations. Overall though, the fundamental global economic position remains positive and for public companies this should drive higher earnings and ultimately improved valuations. There remains a substantial amount of liquidity in the financial system and this will, in our view, act as a cushioning mechanism to any volatility. Indeed, we saw this in February when markets fell but then rebounded only to go on to set new record highs.

The fact that personal investors remain concerned about the impact of Brexit on markets as we get closer to March 2019 is reflective of a fear of the unknown and the more clarity politicians can give as to the likely final agreement the better for both business and investors."

*The top 10 purchased companies is based on the number of ‘buy’ trades made by customers at The Share Centre between 23/06/2016-01/06/2018:

1. Lloyds Banking
2. Sirius Minerals
3. Vodafone
4. GlaxoSmithKline
5. BP
6. National Grid
7. BT
8. UK Oil & Gas Investments
9. Royal Dutch Shell B
10. Barclays

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