The irony, of course, is that there was a time when all we wanted to do was escape issues relating to Brexit. How things have changed.
The risk arising from so much attention being directed towards coronavirus-related issues is a lack of information, insight and scrutiny of Brexit developments. We know that negotiations between the UK and the EU are ongoing, yet little progress is being reported. And with both sides indicating that COVID-19 will not lead to any sort of extension, there appears a real risk that the UK will walk out at the end of the year without a deal, a situation that could cause a seismic shock on already weakened global markets and economies.
Such concerns should not just be confined to Brexit and the UK. According to the National Democratic Institute, more than 50 local, regional and national elections are due to take place during the remainder of 2020, some of which could have sizeable geopolitical implications. Chief among these of course is the US Presidential Election, though results appear likely to be tied to the management of the COVID-19 crisis and the Trump administration’s ability to obfuscate and direct attention away from an increasingly dire situation. And, while still someway off, 2021 elections in a number of developed market countries – Germany and Japan, most notably – may result in further shifts in the status quo.
So, while the current focus on coronavirus is both understandable and necessary, it is important that this is not wholly at the expense of other issues that also have significant potential to reshape global dynamics. These will become increasingly pertinent in the coming months, and financial services businesses would be well advised to address some of these topics now in order to be on the “front foot” when speaking to clients and prospects.