The reality has been more difficult to discern. The finance industry’s move to the continent has been piecemeal, and Brexit preparations have been complicated by the onslaught of the pandemic. Indeed, the management of the virus and the demands of home-working during lockdown mean some firms have had to slow their Brexit planning.
Unfortunately for London, one can still discern a shift in direction — amid all the fog of the Covid-19 war — that may support the Brexit doomsayers’ case. As Britain and Brussels embark on the final stage of talks to determine their future trading relationship, the trickle of resources moving away from the City is turning into a steady stream. The biggest investment banks have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the midst of a global recession to lease real estate on the continent, while relocating activities and jobs to set up standalone operations in the EU.
Although a single European rival to London may not emerge for some time, if at all, the shift is already posing questions about London’s future role in global finance — and Britain’s coffers.
Take JPMorgan Chase & Co. The biggest U.S. bank is moving the equivalent of $230 billion of assets from the U.K. to its EU hub in Frankfurt, Bloomberg News has reported. That represents one-tenth of the Wall Street giant’s total assets and more than a third of the assets it holds in the U.K., its latest accounts show. About 200 employees are moving to continental Europe in what one executive described as a “first wave” of relocations.
The potential impact on JPMorgan’s revenue is even more striking. In a recent interview with Bloomberg Television, the bank’s top European executive, Viswas Raghavan, said 25% of the wholesale revenue generated by the firm in the U.K. could