At a financial news event in London, Swiss banking giant UBS head Andrea Orcel demanded clarity over the Brexit roadmap before March or “there will be a significant shift out of the UK”.
Mr. Orcel added that policymakers from the UK and the EU should clarify as soon as possible if the existing framework that allows EU-based customers access to cross-border financial products and services from UK-based banks will remain or not.
According Orcel, the uncertainty of post-Brexit situation needs to be addressed promptly because employees will need time to “move their families and find new schools and new houses.”
The exact scale of UBS’ moves has not yet been finalised. Mr. Orcel said that the bank will reveal its Brexit plans later in December after consulting with staff on where they would prefer to move.
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Earlier this year Axel Weber, UBS chairman, warned that up to 1,000 London jobs – nearly 20 percent its UK workforce – could move to Frankfurt and other EU centres.
“Definitive decisions will need to be made on moving people out of London in the first quarter if we don’t have definite guidance on a transition period by then. The transition period is critical. We need to give people time to move their families and find new schools and new houses,” said Orcel.
He added: “All investment banks could not move to the same EU city as none of the alternative locations had the capacity to handle such an influx of highly paid people. They can’t house it, they are just not structured to have international schools for 25,000 families.”
The warning from Switzerland’s largest bank and other global firms come despite the Conservative party losing its majority in the June elections, which made it more likely that Theresa May will seek a softer Brexit deal.
Earlier this year, the BoE told banks and other financial institutions to submit their Brexit plans and to be ready for all possible outcomes, including a hard Brexit. Estimates of the impact of worst-case scenario on the jobs figures vary, but some reports expected that London could lose up to 250,000 financial jobs.