By Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) - Optimism about the business outlook among Britain's financial services firms has fallen at its fastest rate since the 2008 financial crisis amid concerns about Britain's exit from the European Union, a survey showed on Monday.
Business volumes among the 84 top financial firms polled have also fallen at their fastest rate since September 2012, the survey by the Confederation of British Industry and accounting firm PwC showed.
The mounting gloom from banks, insurers, fund managers and other financial firms comes as Prime Minister Theresa May battles to get her twice-rejected withdrawal agreement with the EU through a bitterly divided parliament.
The investment management industry saw the sharpest fall in growth, the CBI/PwC survey said, as investors hold on to their cash in turbulent markets, while insurance brokers were the lone bright spot.
"The alarm bells ringing at the state of optimism in the financial services sector have now reached a deafening level," Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist said.
Employment across financial services fell at the quickest pace in four years, the poll showed, driven mainly by job cuts in the banking sector as lenders slash branch networks and shift jobs overseas to trim costs.
(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Alison Williams)