“We should stop looking back, roll up our sleeves and look to the future,” said Anthony Browne, speaking at the BBA’s annual dinner at Mansion House.
The lobby group boss’s comments appear to mark a change of tack. Just four weeks ago Browne warned that banks’ “hands are quivering over the relocate button” as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50.
Several global lenders with London offices, such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, donated heavily to the Remain campaign in the run-up to the 23 June referendum. At the time they warned of huge job losses should the UK vote to leave the EU.
However, Browne said last night that, while banks may be putting contingency plans in place, they are also “doing what they can to keep as many jobs as possible in the UK”.
He added: “Financial services in the UK – with the City at its heart – have weathered many changes over the years. People are always quick to write us off.”
As an industry “that adapts to change”, he said the banking sector “should not let our justifiable concerns about the next few years blind us to the opportunities that Brexit presents”, despite the challenges ahead.
Browne urged the government to ensure free trade in financial services across the EU, post-Brexit.
The head of the BBA also welcomed the PM’s pledge to ensure the UK has the lowest corporation tax in the G20. However, he added: “the bank corporation tax surcharge means it will apply to every industry except the UK’s biggest export sector”.