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Brexit Uncertainty: What We’ve Got Here is a Breakdown in Communication

Written by Matthew Dove (Digital Editor)

We’ve been pestering regulators, fintechs and bankers to find out who’s bored, who’s terrified and who’s got plums enough to take the epic turd that is the Brexit and roll it in glitter. (Spoilers: It didn’t go well…)

So, who’s up first? Don’t all speak at once, will you…

Most of the legacy banks we approached were too busy packing their bags and searching for their passports to comment (apparently the trillion dollars they’re moving to the EU can’t travel unaccompanied). We were therefore compelled to allow their actions speak for themselves.

Deutsche Bank, Citi and Goldman Sachs were amongst the first to hop the fence in a monetary exodus that’s seen roughly 10% of the UK’s banking sector assets leave the country in the build up to Brexit so far. That figure will continue to rise as more banks initiate their Brexit strategies which, by and large, appear to be “form an orderly queue and abandon ship.”

A representative of Barclays told us that, “Unfortunately Barclays won’t be able to feature in this article. The MD who would contribute is on leave and won’t be returning in time.”

With further details lacking, we were left pondering the exact nature of said MD’s leave (Dublin? Or Frankfurt, perhaps?) and whether they will be returning before the 29th. No matter, we allowed the numbers to do the talking once again.

As well as moving its European headquarters to the Republic of Ireland and borrowing billions from the Bank of England’s Term Funding Scheme, Barclays has latterly decided to shift almost 200 million euros worth of assets to Dublin along with 40-50 investment banking positions to Frankfurt from London.

Having left the banks arguing over who’s going to turn the lights off, we troubled the regulators at the FCA and the EBA for some words of wisdom instead. Rather remarkably, they chimed in unison. That said, “chimed” implies that either body actually made a sound, they didn’t.

“Thank you for contacting us. Unfortunately, it would be difficult, at this point in time, to contribute to your piece as we have not released any views on the impact of Brexit on FinTech.”

Franca Rosa Congiu, European Banking Authority

“the FCA does not comment on Brexit, over and above what’s on the website. So, I’m sorry, but I can’t comment”

Gordon Chapple, Financial Conduct Authority

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Industry Consultant & Principal at FinTechReguLab

That left it to Peter Smith, NED/principal at FinTechReguLab, to shed some light on the regulatory situation. He confirmed that the sounds of silence were not only affecting the Fintech Times but British business as a whole;

“The mood music is saying that most businesses lacked the information and clarity they need to navigate their forward course heading in to what could be the biggest change for them in a generation.

There is a very real risk that a lack of clear, actionable information from government will leave firms, their people and their communities in an impossible position. Even those companies trying their hardest to get ready are still in the dark on important matters from contracts through to customs. Many others, who took the decision to wait for the political process to conclude before acting, would face sudden and costly adjustments if a deal is not reached.

The British Chamber Commerce (BCC) is particularly concerned over potentially escalating costs from export tariffs, but also retaliatory measures from the UK on its EU imports, with members telling the body they would like to see an official information hub where information about tariffs, duties and trade agreements for different countries are stored.”

For more on Brexit from TFT’s March print edition click here
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