UK should try competing with US and Asia, not Europe – Barclays CEO

Alexander Britton, PAFri, 5 February 2021, 7:09 am

The UK’s financial services industry should focus on taking on New York and Singapore rather than the EU post-Brexit, the chief executive of Barclays has said.

Jes Staley, who has led the bank since December 2015, told the BBC that the UK fostering co-operation and trust with the EU was important in the wake of the divorce, but not at the cost of being uncompetitive.

He told the broadcaster: “What the UK needs and London needs, is to make sure that the city is one of the best places, whether it was regulation or law or language, or talent that manages these flows of capital well.

London Skyline
The City of London faces uncertain times after Brexit (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“I think what London needs to be focused on is not Frankfurt or not Paris, (it) needs to be focused on New York and Singapore.

“Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to define its own agenda, and in defining that agenda around financial services, staying competitive with other markets outside of Europe is really what the Government here should be focused on, and I think that’s what they’re focusing on.”

The Brexit deal has very little mention of the financial services sector, and negotiators are working on a memorandum of understanding about the industry with the aim of having it signed in March.

The EU has previously said that it only wants to allow euro-denominated derivatives trading, which includes buying and selling currency and bonds, to take place within the bloc or somewhere else with equivalent rules.

But Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, speaking to the Treasury Select Committee in January, said: “The situation we find ourselves in is that the EU wants more information from the UK on what its future intentions are on regulation. I think that’s quite problematic frankly in terms of equivalence.”