London should remain Europe’s financial centre after Brexit to ‘balance’ New York, says UBS

The Bank of England and consultancy EY have warned that as many as 10,000 City jobs could go by March next year without a Brexit trade deal. Swiss investment bank UBS has said it wants London to remain Europe’s financial hub and it will try to keep as many staff in the City as possible after Brexit.

Speaking to Bloomberg TV at the World Economic Forum in Davos, UBS’s investment banking head Andrea Orcel said the Zurich-based bank wanted to keep “as much as we can in the UK”.

The bank favours having a strong European financial centre to “balance” New York, Mr Orcel said, adding that global banks had clustered in London historically to save costs and were reluctant to move out.

However, he warned that “everybody has a plan on how to redeploy and relocate” staff and said banks needed to see progress on Brexit trade talks – including an agreed transition period – by March at the latest.

Mr Orcel said: “Now we are beyond maximum time so all investment banks need to take a view and need to start executing, so March is really the deadline”.

UBS has centralised much of its European operations in London in recent years, including moving more than 5,000 staff to a purpose-built ‘groundscraper’ at 5 Broadgate in the Square Mile.

In its results earlier this month, UBS revealed it would start to implement Brexit contingency plans early this year, with around 200 roles reportedly earmarked for relocation.

Several investment banking bosses in Davos this week have urged the UK to make quicker progress in Brexit trade talks.

JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein told the BBC in separate interviews earlier this week that City jobs would go without a deal.

Mr Dimon warned that more than 4,000 UK jobs at the US bank could relocate over the longer term.

Mr Blankfein said that some steps already taken by his bank to prepare for Brexit were “not going to be undone”.

Other European financial hubs including Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and Amsterdam have started courting City firms in the hope they will relocate staff to their city.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Reuters in Davos that Paris could overtake London.

There will be a new leader after Brexit,” he said. “I see the possibility for France to become in the coming years the most important financial centre in Europe and the UK is in Europe.

The Bank of England and consultancy EY have warned that as many as 10,000 City jobs could go by March next year without a Brexit trade deal.

City bosses met with Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond at Number 10 earlier this month to press for swift progress.

The EU has insisted Britain’s financial services industry will not be included in any agreement.

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