London finance chief: Don’t be mislead by Brexit jobs trickle

City workers fear a disorderly Brexit, which policy chiefs anticipate will damage regulatory alignment and access to the EU. (Reuters)
Updated 15 October 2019

London finance chief: Don’t be mislead by Brexit jobs trickle

  • The city’s policy leader warned that heavy job losses to Europe are expected

LONDON: Britain’s vast financial services industry will lose more jobs to Europe over the coming years because of Brexit, the City of London’s policy chief told Reuters, warning people not to be duped by the low number of job moves to the continent so far.

The City of London, home to global foreign exchange, bonds and fund management operations and to more banks than any other financial center, faces upheaval as firms decide whether to shift jobs to continental Europe to keep serving customers there after Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in two weeks.

Catherine McGuinness, the political leader of the financial district’s municipal body, warned that the country’s biggest export sector and biggest source of corporate tax has no “God given right” to global pre-eminence in finance.

“The announced job moves at the moment are fairly low. We would expect those to go up,” McGuinness said in an interview in a room off the local government’s seat of power in the medieval Guildhall. “It’s not the end of the story. This is a moment of high risk for the City.”

Since Britain voted to leave the EU three years ago, London’s financial services industry has been jolted by the prospect of ending four decades of regulatory integration and losing access to the bloc in one fell swoop later this year.

McGuinness said business leaders have been frustrated by more three years of uncertainty and worries about some of the political momentum behind leaving with no deal.

“We need the government to stop messing about and get on with sorting out our long-term future on the basis that will allow us to strike up a harmonious relationship with our EU partners going forward,” she said.

Britain and the EU meet at a summit in Brussels on Thursday in a bid to agree a divorce settlement, otherwise Britain faces asking for an extension, or a disorderly no-deal departure.

“A disorderly Brexit would be a bad thing, and I don’t think anyone views an extension with enthusiasm. We don’t want to see cans kicked down the road,” McGuinness said.

But given that global banks have no loyalty to anyone, she urged the government to help the City continue recruiting from international talent, build adequate housing and transport, and keep banks competitive after the US cut taxes.

When asked whether she would rather Britain to leave the EU without a deal or a socialist government led by the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, McGuinness said it was a hard question to answer.

“A destructive exit would be a very bad thing,” she said. “A government of whatever complexion that did just look at the whole needs of the whole economy would be the better solution.”

Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

Updated 15 November 2019

Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

  • Others have also reduced headcount amid economic downturn and property market weakness

DUBAI: HSBC Holdings has laid off about 40 bankers in the UAE and Emirates NBD is cutting around 100 jobs, as banks in the Arab world’s second-biggest economy reduce costs.

The cuts come amid weak economic growth, especially in Dubai, which is suffering from a property downturn.

HSBC’s redundancies came after the London-based bank reported a sharp fall in earnings and warned of a costly restructuring, as interim CEO Noel Quinn seeks to tackle its problems head-on.

HSBC has about 3,000 staff in the UAE, part of a nearly 10,000-strong workforce in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

The cuts at Dubai’s largest lender Emirates NBD came in consumer sales and liabilities, one source said, while a second played down the significance of the move.

HSBC and Emirates NBD declined to comment.

“The cuts are part of cost cutting and rationalizing to drive efficiencies in a challenging market,” the second source said.

Other banks have also reduced staff this year. UAE central bank data shows local banks laid off 446 people in the 12 months until the end of September. Foreign banks added staff in the same period.

Staff at local banks account for over 80 percent of the 35,518 banking employees in the country.

The merger between Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union Commercial Bank and Al Hilal Bank saw hundreds of redundancies.

Commercial Bank International (CBI) said it would offer voluntary retirement to employees in September, which sources said saw over 100 departures. Standard Chartered, too, cut over 100 jobs in the UAE in September.

Rating agency Fitch warned in September a weakening property market would put more pressure on the UAE’s banking sector.