A combination of "macroeconomic and Brexit uncertainty" contributed to the first fall in demand for financial services in five years according to the latest CBI/PwC Financial Services Survey.
Meanwhile, sentiment among financial services firms deteriorated — optimism has been flat or falling for three years now.
Andrew Kail, Head of Financial Services at PwC, said: "The underlying reasons for this dip in optimism have been around for some time — political and Brexit-related uncertainty, regulatory pressures and a sustained low interest rate environment impacting margins. Competition from established peers as well as new market entrants is also high on companies' radars.
"UK financial services firms looking to prosper in 2019 should concentrate on issues they can control. Most importantly, by focusing on clear strategies for delivering value through products and services which meet their customers' needs, maximising the efficiency of delivering these services — keeping operating costs under control — and using technology to augment the quality and efficiency of activities across their business."