Barclays boss: London will continue to be the "financial lungs" of Europe post-Brexit

Hayley Kirton
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A Barclays Bank branch signboard is pict
Some people might have called London the financial heart of Europe. Staley has other ideas... (Source: Getty)

The boss of one of the UK's biggest banks has today come out fighting for the City's post-Brexit status, likening London to an essential organ for the continent's financial health.

"I don't believe that the European finances system, our centre, will leave the City of London," Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays told the BBC in an interview at Davos. "There are all sorts of reasons why I think the UK will continue to be the financial lungs for Europe."

His comments come shortly after both HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver and UBS investment chief Andrea Orcel confirmed they would be moving jobs away from the UK as a result of Brexit. Both banks are looking at moving up to 1,000 roles.

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Meanwhile, JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon revealed his bank might have to shift more jobs overseas than he had originally thought. Dimon has previously said his company could need to move as many as 4,000 of their 16,000 UK staff out of the country as a consequence of the Brexit vote.

Plus, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported Goldman Sachs would be halving its 6,000-strong London workforce and shifting roles elsewhere because of the Leave vote, but a spokesperson for the bank has since said no final decision had been made and there were still "numerous uncertainties" as to what the Brexit negotiations would bring.

On the other hand, Staley said: "We may have to move certain activities. We may have to change the legal structure that we use to operate in Europe, but I think it's going to be at the margin and will be managable."

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He also said of the competition between countries to lure over London's financial elite: "It's interesting it was not too long ago that nobody wanted a banker in their backyard, and all of a sudden we're being invited over for the BBQ."

Certain cities have launched a charm offensive since the Brexit vote, with Paris urging firms if they are “tired of the fog” to “try the frogs” and Frankfurt sending top politicians out over to New York in a bid to win over the hearts of the big banks.

Meanwhile, speaking to Reuters separately, Barclays chairman John McFarlane said he was in favour of a three-year transition period for the financial sector once the UK left the EU.

"We have known for months that passporting is not going to happen," McFarlane said, adding: "We want a standstill arrangement for three years, that would kick in after the government's negotiations on Brexit are finalised."

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