Barclays’ Chairman McFarlane Hints at Post-Brexit Moves

Staff moves could be in the hundreds as Barclays continues talks with Irish regulatory authorities.

For over a year now, Brexit has loomed in the minds and decision making of leading banks operating in the UK. As the paramount financial center in Europe, ongoing negotiations with the UK government have left many lenders in a state of limbo – however Barclays has given its strongest signals to date of more concrete move in personnel into the bloc.

This stance had long been adopted not just by Barclays but other lenders such as RBS, Deutsche Bank, and Standard Chartered, among others. Earlier this summer, most lenders opted to relocate their European headquarters within the bloc into cities such as Frankfurt and Dublin.

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Staff move in the hundreds

The strategy was echoed today in a parliamentary committee hearing by Barclays’ Chairman John McFarlane, who portended that “staff moves from Brexit could be in the hundreds”, according to a Reuters report.

For its part, Barclays has been part of a cadre of lenders looking to Dublin, one of the top two destinations for banks for their post-Brexit headquarters. The timetable was largely dictated by the Bank of England (BoE), which required banks to disclose their plans during this period. This coincided with a flurry of announcements from banks, which pointed to Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, and even Amsterdam as plausible landing spots.

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Presently Barclays is in discussions with Irish lenders about moving a segment of its operations to Dublin ahead of the UK’s formal exit from the EU in March 2019. The transition would be quite seamless given that Barclays already possesses a licensed entity in Dublin, i.e. Barclays Bank Ireland.

The unit has only a hundred employees at present, and it is licensed to conduct corporate banking activities. Barclays is in talks to augment the mandate of this unit, which will garner rights to serve clients once the UK formally leaves the EU.

While 2017 was dominated by mostly conjecture, 2018 may see the publication of more formalized plans and concrete relocation plans. Many licenses take time to secure, and despite measures adopted by the German and Irish government, the relaxation of certain obligations will still require a due process.

More likely, mid-late 2018 will signal upcoming strategies by leading lending authorities in Europe. Despite any move in personnel however, Barclays is largely staying put in the UK. As recently as April, the group’s fintech arm Rise dramatically expanded its operations in London, suggesting that the UK capital will continue to be an emphasis for its 2018 outlook and beyond.

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