Positivity among the 94 banks, investment management firms and insurers surveyed in Q4 is reflected by an increase in recruitment, investment in technology and profit expectations over the next three months.
Andrew Kail, head of financial services at PwC UK, said: “The stirrings of optimism represent a significant turnaround given the flat and falling optimism that has beset the past four years.”
But Kail said firms would need “20/20” vision to maximise performance because the sector was still in the dark about what transitional arrangements would be in place for the UK as it left the European Union.
In the banking sector there was a turnaround from the sharp drop in confidence seen over the past year. Confidence may be stronger still because the survey was carried out before the general election, which has provided greater political certainty.
Digital leading the way
However, digital-only banks are putting pressure on the operating models of traditional banks. Digital-only banks are able to use technology in an innovative way at a fraction of the cost of the established banks that must work with legacy systems.
According to the survey, there is sentiment that that having scale is no longer a guarantee of success and the race is now on to bring digital customer service and experience up to date.