Barclays CEO Jes Staley Says Brexit Will Benefit of City of London

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Barclays Plc’s Jes Staley said the U.K.’s departure from the European Union will prove to be a net benefit for the City of London.

While some jobs and assets have shifted to the bloc, the chief executive officer 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.”

Barclays CEO Jes Staley Says Brexit Will Benefit of City of London

He said that while the U.K. 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 like green finance. The finance industry is a central pillar of the U.K. 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 U.K. before Brexit took effect on Dec. 31. That’s accelerated the erosion of London’s longstanding strengths as Europe’s predominant financial center, including most share trading in European shares shifting into the bloc.

But the impact 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 U.K., 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 center.

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

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