Barclays CEO Jes Staley. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Barclays CEO Jes Staley. Picture: BLOOMBERG

London — Barclays’s Jes Staley said the UK’s departure from the EU will prove to be a net benefit for the City of London.

While some jobs and assets have shifted to the bloc, the CEO said in an interview with the BBC that the ability of the finance industry to set its own agenda would better enable it to compete with Asian and American financial hubs.

“What London needs to be focused on is not Frankfurt or not Paris,” Staley said. It “needs to be focused on New York and Singapore”.

He said that while the UK should work to maintain good relations with the EU, its future prospects will hinge on its ability to attract global capital and become a hub for areas such as green finance. The finance industry is a central pillar of the UK economy, generating about 7% of economic output and employing 1.1-million people.

Staley’s upbeat message comes after the sector was largely ignored by the trade deal struck by the UK before Brexit took effect on December 31. That’s accelerated the erosion of London’s long-standing strengths as Europe’s predominant financial centre, including most share trading in European shares shifting into the bloc.

But the effect for Barclays, so far at least, has been limited.

“There are some jobs that are going to Europe, that otherwise would have been in the UK, but it’s in the hundreds,” Staley said. “Some amount of capital has moved but London is still obviously the main centre for Barclays.”

Staley also said that deregulation wasn’t the answer to maintaining London’s competitiveness as a global financial centre.

Regulation “protects the financial industry” and “makes the bank safer,” he said. “I wouldn’t burn one piece of regulation.”



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