The European Central Bank (ECB) is urging firms to speed up their relocation plans in preparation for Brexit.
Sabine Lautenschlaeger, vice chair of the ECB’s supervisory board, said banks are “not as far advanced as we would like them to be” in their Brexit planning.
“I have a very clear message to both smaller and larger banks: the clock is ticking,” she said in an ECB newsletter.
“No one knows how Brexit will play out, and that’s why all affected banks should prepare themselves with a hard Brexit in mind.”
She added: “Of the banks that have indicated an interest in relocating operations to the euro area, a number of the larger banks have made progress in their planning. But we have not seen many final decisions yet on how these and other banks want to organise their business.
“For a number of reasons, they seem to be very cautious about taking decisions. However, they must do so very soon; we only have a narrow time frame in which to assess plans and applications, following a standard process we have already communicated.”
With the UK set to leave the Single Market as part of Brexit, banks are working on plans that will mean they can continue to service EU-based clients after March 2019.
The likes of Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Japanese investment bank Nomura have announced plans to set up new EU bases in Frankfurt after the UK leaves the EU. Dublin, Luxembourg, Paris and Amsterdam have also drawn commitments from big financial services firms.