Sun. Mar 7th, 2021

Britain’s financial services industry should focus on winning business in the United States and Asia rather than the European Union in the aftermath of Brexit, Barclays CEO Jes Staley said.

While still the only global financial centre to rival New York, the City of London has seen some business and job losses since Britain’s shock 2016 Brexit vote and has been largely cut off from the EU, its biggest single customer, by the divorce. However, some see the distancing of London from Europe as an opportunity for it to carve out a more dynamic global role.

“Brexit is more than likely on the positive side than on the negative side,” Barclays CEO Staley told the BBC.

“What London needs to be focused on is not Frankfurt or Paris, needs to be focused on New York and Singapore,” Staley, an American banker who spent 30 years in senior roles at U.S. financial services giant JPMorgan, added.

New York retained the top spot in a survey of global financial centres published in September by Global Financial Centres Index, with London strengthening its position in second.

While trading in euro shares and some derivatives has left for other European centres, including some to New York, since Brexit, no one European competitor has emerged as a dominant force in the EU and so London views New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore as its true rivals.

London dominates the world’s $6.6 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market, is the biggest centre for international banking and the second largest fintech hub after the United States.

“What the UK needs and London needs, is to make sure that the City is one of the best places, whether [it is in terms of] regulation or law or language, or talent,” Staley said.

Echoing other leading City of London figures, he cautioned, however, against a bonfire of regulation.

“I wouldn’t burn one piece of regulation,” added the boss of Barclays, which he said employs some 50,000 people in the United Kingdom, roughly 20,000 outside of the UK and 10,000 in the U.S.

“Some amount of capital has moved but London is still obviously the main centre for Barclays….there are some jobs that are going to Europe, that otherwise would have been in the UK, but it’s in the hundreds,” Staley added.

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