Citigroup’s European head has said that Brexit has not impacted the City anywhere near as much as experts predicted.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, David Livingstone, Citi’s Europe, Middle East and Africa boss, said the City has “not been diminished” by Brexit, despite attempts by the EU to attract more firms to the bloc.
Livingstone highlighted a range of factors that made the City an attractive place to do business, including its language and strong legal traditions.
“For me, it’s an absolute certainty that the UK will remain with those characteristics and therefore remain the place that we have our headquarters,” he said.
Many experts warned that Brexit would damage the standing of the City, with some predicting that thousands of jobs would move out of London. But Livingstone said Citi has only shifted “a few hundred roles” out of the City, mainly due to regulatory requirements.
While the EU has been attempting to boost its capital markets since the UK left the bloc, by bringing together the various domestic markets into one market, Livingstone suggested it still had much work to do.
“The EU post-Brexit has got a lot to build in terms of the depth of its capital markets. It’s got a banking union and a capital markets union, both of which are not progressing as fast in terms of delivering an outcome as a place where corporate clients and institutional clients can raise capital and do it in a seamless way within the union,” he said.
Despite the EU’s limitations, he said it was still important that regulators and legislators made steps to boost the City’s competitiveness.
“I still think it is important that the UK focuses on its competitiveness and not just rest on the laurels of those characteristics, which I think are evidently permanent but you don’t want to diminish them by not having the right [regulatory] settings.”
Under the Financial Services and Markets Act, the financial regulators will have to consider competitiveness when making regulatory decisions.
A slew of regulatory reforms focusing on capital markets have also been announced in recent weeks, including streamlining the listings regime, scrapping EU-rules on investment research and moves to ensure pension funds invest more in UK companies.
“The reforms announced by the Chancellor show that the UK is asking itself questions around how to keep the capital markets here vibrant… So I think that is really positive,” he said.