Jes Staley, the CEO of Barclays, has said the UK financial services industry should focus on competing with the US and Asia, rather than the EU.
Staley reportedly said that although jobs that would have been created in the Square Mile may have been moved to the EU, Brexit has given one of the UK’s key sectors the chance to define its own agenda.
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“I think Brexit is more than likely on the positive side than on the negative side,” he told the BBC.
“What the UK needs and London needs is to make sure that the City is one of the best places, whether in terms of regulation, law, language or talent.”
“What London needs to be focused on is not Frankfurt or Paris, it needs to be focused on New York and Singapore.”
Staley said he did not support widespread deregulation to achieve this aim, saying the UK’s robust regulation system was a major strength not a weakness.
He referred to the recent clampdown on firms offering buy now, pay later schemes as a reassuring sign. He said: “You see what’s happening right now with buy now, pay later, you know, the FCA is going to come in and start to increase the regulation of that marketplace.”
Although the UK-EU trade deal means the finance industry is facing a hard Brexit, resulting in EU company shares worth €6bn (£5.3bn) shifting from London to the Continent, Staley remains optimistic about the prospects of the City.
However, he also advised caution: “If we get it wrong, the main beneficiary is probably Asia.
“New York is such a massive presence in the global capital markets but Asia is growing and the wealth accumulation in Asia is growing so the winner if Europe and the UK pull back, would be Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong,” he concluded.