Barclays downplays Brexit fears over finance jobs

Barclays is not considering moving British jobs to Europe because of Brexit, the bank’s chief executive has said.

Jes Staley also said that any internal restructuring that would be needed after Brexit would be a “wholly manageable challenge” and “significantly less costly” than other issues the bank has faced.

Unite welcomed Staley’s commitment to the UK but said that as well as keeping investment bank jobs in Britain it was vital that Barclays does not let its high-street banking staff fall prey to Brexit uncertainty.

Speaking at Barclays’ annual shareholder meeting in London, Staley said that preparing to leave the EU was not as difficult as establishing a US holding company, which the bank was required to do last year, or preparing to ring-fence its retail operations from it’s investment arm by 2019.

Staley’s position contrasts with that of other major banks, who have said that they may move investment banking jobs out of the UK because of Brexit.

Deutsche Bank has warned that 4,000 jobs could go, while JP Morgan is planning to move up to 1,000 staff out of London to Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Dublin. Goldman Sachs has said that it will need more bankers across EU cities, despite retaining its new London headquarters.

Staley said the best result for the whole UK financial sector would be to retain access to the single market but made clear the bank had options whatever the outcome of the negotiations.

“I have to say that compared to the complexity of standing up our US intermediate holding company, as we did on 1 July last year, let alone establishing a ringfenced bank in the UK from scratch, as we are currently doing, any of the options we might need to pursue are by comparison straightforward, and significantly less costly,” said Staley.

“Finally, we do not currently see a need in our options to shift British jobs or significant operations elsewhere. If we require a buildup of capability in another European Union jurisdiction as part of our plans then we can do so, and we will.”

Unite national officer for finance Dominic Hook, said Staley’s comments were welcome but was clear that retail banking could also be affected by Brexit.

He said: “It’s welcome news that Barclays does not seem intent on moving jobs out of the UK and it is be hoped that other banks will follow suit. However as we leave the EU it is important that it is not just investment bank jobs in the UK that are secured.

“Unite will fight to ensure that Brexit is not used as an excuse for redundancies or to attack terms and conditions for retail bank workers. Nor must the uncertainty be used to close further branches or offshore support functions.”

He added: “As Jes Staley noted it is also vital for the finance sector to retain access to the Single Market. From transport and manufacturing to banking, our members best interests lie in securing a successful trade deal with the EU and the avoidance of a ‘hard’ Tory Brexit.”