London’s Brexit finance ‘exodus’ over done, says Barclays boss


Oscar Williams-Grut·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UKThu, 18 February 2021, 11:29 am

Canary Wharf business district in London, England. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Canary Wharf business district in London, England. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The chief executive of Barclays (BARC.L) has downplayed the importance of London losing trading volumes post-Brexit.

Data published in recent weeks showed share trading worth billions had moved from London to Amsterdam, while
huge amounts of derivatives trade has shifted to New York. The news has revived fears that London could lose its status as a global financial centre post-Brexit.

READ MORE: Amsterdam overtakes London as Europe’s share trading hub

Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays, downplayed concerns on a call with journalists on Friday.

“I wouldn’t over react to the stock trading coming out of Amsterdam,” he said. “The main pool of capital that is managed out of London today is pretty much unchanged from where it was six months ago or a year ago. I don’t think you have an exodus that should make people stand up and say: oh my god, does London have a problem?

“I’m still very constructive on the City. There’s competition from capital markets all over the world — from Singapore to Tokyo and now Europe as well. But London’s got some tremendous assets — starting with assets. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interests to shrink the second largest capital market in the world. I think London will be fine.”

WATCH: Barclays beats forecasts, though profits halve 0:00 0:58   Barclays beats forecasts, though profits halve

READ MORE: Brexit leaves UK finance in limbo as City fights for EU access

The City of London has been shut out of the EU’s single market post-Brexit and is hoping Brussels will grant equivalence rulings that would allow offices in London to offer more service to clients across Europe. Some in the City fear the EU will withhold permission in order to drive more business into Europe.

“I think the European Union will want to stay connected to the financial markets in London,” Staley said. “I do think it’s beneficial for both governments to collaborate and cooperate.”

Earlier this month Staley told the BBC that New York and Singapore were likely to pose a greater threat to London’s position than any regional hub like Paris or Frankfurt.

READ MORE: Barclays CEO predicts ‘new dawn’ for UK economy

Speaking on Thursday, Staley recommitted Barclays to London, promising to maintain a “a significant presence in Canary Wharf.” He said he hoped to get staff back into the office later this year as vaccine roll-outs progress.

“I think we were all surprised at the beginning of the pandemic that we cold have 55,000 employees working from their kitchen table and keep this bank functioning, keep this bank in a good place,” he said.

“It’s getting old. It’ll be good to get people working together again.”

Staley made the comments during an full-year earnings call with media. Barclays reported better-than-expected revenues and profits, but shares fell as investors focused on the bank’s cautious outlook.