Journalist Spotlight

Andrew MacAskill on exclusive on Britain's financial heartland unbowed as Brexit risks deepen

Andrew MacAskill on exclusive on Britain's financial heartland unbowed as Brexit risks deepen

This week, a Reuters exclusive reported that Britain’s financial services industry has emerged largely unscathed so far from the build-up to Brexit, with about 2,000 roles expected to have moved or been created overseas even as the risk of a disorderly exit grows. A new Reuters survey of 132 of the biggest or most internationally-focused banks, insurers, asset managers, private equity firms and exchanges showed that the number of jobs UK-based financial institutions say they actually expect to shift overseas has fallen steeply from the 5,766 predicted to move in the event of a no-deal Brexit in the last survey in September. In a Reuters Best: Journalist Spotlight Q&A, UK Correspondent Andrew MacAskill gives a behind-the-scenes look at how he and Chief European Funds Correspondent Simon Jessop reported the story.

Q. How did you and Simon get started on this story? A. We began this project about two years ago and published our findings every six months. There is a very polarized debate in Britain about how different industries will be impacted by Brexit. We decided to look at the impact on the finance sector, which is the powerhouse of Britain’s economy. Some forecasts at the time were predicting between a fifth and half of all jobs in this industry would leave. Our aim was to find out the real impact.

Q. What types of reporting were involved? A. We contacted every major finance company in Britain. We built a spreadsheet of almost 200 companies and tried to get answers to eight questions. Sometimes it was easy to obtain the information. Other times it was challenging. It was always time consuming. We had to make several hundred phone calls every time we wanted to publish the story.

Q. What was the hardest part of the reporting? A. It was getting people to tell us their plans. Once we had the information, we relied on a team of editors and colleagues who created an interactive graphic to help us tell the findings in the best format.

Q. Why was this an important story to tell our customers? A. No one really knows yet how Brexit will turn out. The long-term impact on the finance industry is one factor which will help determine whether the decision is a success or failure.

Q. What makes you passionate about journalism? A. The chance to travel and interview interesting people.

Q. What is your beat and what do you find most fulfilling about it? A. I currently work in the UK bureau. I have a varied job. I cover Brexit, general news and finance.

Q. What have been your most rewarding and most difficult experiences as a journalist? A. I previously worked in India and China. It was a privilege to work in two of the most interesting countries in the world and to watch history unfold. I haven’t been back to either country since, but my memories are still vivid.


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