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

Views Of the CLSA Hong Kong Office

Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

CLSA Ltd.’s former deputy chief executive officer and its head of compliance have joined an exodus from the Hong Kong brokerage after its state-owned Chinese parent tightened controls on decision making and tried to rein in pay.

John Sun, who was made deputy CEO last year, departed last week, following CEO Rick Gould’s exit in August after just 16 months in the top job, according to people familiar with the matter. Jaclyn Jhin, chief legal and compliance officer, also left last month, said the people, asking not to be named discussing an internal matter.

They were the last remaining executives who had served on CLSA’s senior leadership committee before a shakeup that began in 2019. The brokerage’s headcount has fallen by about 200 this year to 1,730 as of July, according to one of the people.

Citic Securities Ltd. has been tightening control over CLSA to rein in the once free-wheeling brokerage, which it bought in 2013. It has removed independent decision making, telling key managers to report directly to Beijing. It’s also sought to align pay with colleagues on the mainland and in June asked a dozen senior CLSA executives to take a 10% cut in their base salaries, the people said.

That was later withdrawn after several executives refused to sign the new contract, they said. A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman at CLSA declined to comment.

Citic has brought in at least six mainland executives to replace old CLSA hands since the shakeup began and put them in charge of key functions and businesses ranging from equity and fixed income to risk and finance, the people said. Former Vanguard executive Charles Lin was made CLSA vice chairman in April, assuming many of the former CEO’s responsibilities.

Read more: CLSA is now doing five-year