(Adds more comments, Brexit minister)
By Huw Jones
LONDON, April 26 Banks in Britain will start
shifting some operations to Continental Europe reasonably soon
to avoid disrupting links with customers after Brexit, Barclays
Chief Executive Jes Staley said on Wednesday.
Britain has opened formal divorce talks with the European
Union though it is far from clear what levels of access
businesses will have to EU markets following the country's
departure, which is due in March 2019.
Staley said it would be hard to get full clarity on
Britain's new trading terms in the time banks need to guarantee
links to continental customers after Britain leaves.
"You will start to see movement in a reasonably short period
of time," Staley told a conference, saying that obtaining a
licence to trade on the continent and changing financial
contracts to another jurisdiction takes a year to 18 months.
Quickly securing the residency status of European Union
nationals in Britain was also critical, he said. Barclays has
3,000 EU nationals working in the country.
"Intellectual capital is perhaps the most important asset
that London as a financial centre has," Staley said.
He was speaking after Britain's Brexit minister, David
Davis, told the conference in London that the country's place in
the world was being reshaped.
"Securing an agreement with the EU within the two-year
period about our withdrawal and the shape of our future
relationship will be challenging," Davis said.
HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint told the conference
that banks were looking for clarity on whether there would be an
implementation phase between Brexit and the start of new trading
terms - and how long any such phase would be.
"It would be better to get a good deal in a reasonably short
period of time, rather than a really excellent deal so far into
the future that people will have triggered all their contingency
plans," Flint said.
In Frankfurt, a Deutsche Bank executive said the
bank was considering whether it needs to move thousands of staff
to Frankfurt from London due to Brexit.
"GET SOME SWAGGER"
Brexit has sparked jostling among continental financial
centres for a slice of London's financial business.
The InterContinental Exchange has been asked by
several EU members, including France, the Netherlands and
Germany, whether it would move its clearing operations to
mainland Europe, Chief Executive Jeff Sprecher said.
Several EU policymakers want clearing of euro denominated
transactions, which is now dominated by London, to be based
within the euro zone after Britain leaves the bloc.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told the BBC that it
was an issue of sovereignty and security, saying the majority of
clearing houses could not remain in London following Brexit.
Sprecher said Britain, by far the biggest financial centre
in the region, had a "strong hand" for negotiating new financial
services trading terms with Brussels.
"The UK should have a bit of swagger and not worry
so much about the details," he said.
Michael Spencer, CEO of trading platforms company NEX, said
most customers had chosen to clear in London and forcing them to
shift to mainland Europe would be "deeply bad" protectionism
that both fragments markets and forces continental customers to
trade in a smaller, less efficient market.
"The Europeans will effectively be penalising themselves.
Europe will be worse off. London will be worse off," he said.
(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by David