LONDON (Reuters) – Banks in Britain will start shifting some operations to Continental Europe reasonably soon to avoid disrupting links with customers after Brexit, Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley said yesterday.
Britain has opened formal divorce talks with the European Union though it is far from clear what levels of access businesses will have to EU markets following the country’s departure, which is due in March 2019.
Mr. Staley said it would be hard to get full clarity on Britain’s new trading terms in the time banks need to guarantee links to continental customers after Britain leaves.
“You will start to see movement in a reasonably short period of time,” Mr. Staley told a conference, saying that obtaining a license to trade on the continent and changing financial contracts to another jurisdiction takes a year to 18 months.
Quickly securing the residency status of European Union nationals in Britain was also critical, he said. Barclays has 3,000 EU nationals working in the country.
“Intellectual capital is perhaps the most important asset that London as a financial center has,” Mr. Staley said.
He was speaking after Britain’s Brexit minister, David Davis, told the conference in London that the country’s place in the world was being reshaped.
“Securing an agreement with the EU within the two-year period about our withdrawal and the shape of our future relationship will be challenging,” Mr. Davis said.
HSBC chairman Douglas Flint told the conference that banks were looking for clarity on whether there would be an implementation phase between Brexit and the start of new trading terms – and how long any such phase would be.
“It would be better to get a good deal in a reasonably short period of time, rather than a really excellent deal so far into the future that people will have triggered all their contingency plans,” Mr. Flint said.
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