UBS See London As Financial Centre Post-Brexit

February 22, 2018

The giant Swiss investment bank UBS has gone on record saying London should still be Europe’s financial core after Brexit, and it will do its utmost to keep as many staff as it can in the city.

The comments came from UBS’s investment banking head Andrea Orcel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he said the bank intends to keep “as much as [it] can in the United Kingdom“.

New York Balance

His reasoning was that the bank would favour Europe retaining a strong financial hub to “balance” New York. He claimed that London had become the place where global banks would “cluster”, and they would be reluctant to leave.

He did, however, warn that banks have their own plans regarding redeployment and relocation of staff, and tangible progress on Brexit talks need to be made by March at the latest. A significant portion of the UBS operations in Europe has been centralised in London for some time, including the movement of 5,000 staff into a purpose-built headquarters in the Square Mile.

Earlier this month, the Swiss bank announced it would begin to implement its contingency plans regarding Brexit within the next few months, with a rough estimate of 200 roles being marked for redeployment. There have been several bosses in the investment banking sector making comments in Davos urging the UK to speed up progress on the Brexit discussions. Without a deal on trade, city jobs would soon go from companies like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Paris Rival To London

Other key European financial centres like Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin have begun courting London firms with designs on inviting them to their cities. Some experts have speculated that Paris could actually overtake London as the “most important financial centre in Europe“.

Consultancy EY, along with the Bank of England, have made stark warnings that the number of city jobs that could go by March 2019 might be as high as 10,000 if no Brexit trade deal is struck. London financial bosses held meetings with the Prime Minister and her Chancellor earlier in January to press for swifter progress.

The EU has been adamant that the UK’s financial services industry won’t be included in any deal.