Monday, February 26

Banks warn Javid over no-deal Brexit



Britain’s army of small businesses remain largely unprepared for a no-deal Brexit, some of the financial services industry’s top bosses warned the chancellor on Monday.

Sky News understands that senior bankers told Sajid Javid that while they had made the necessary contingency plans if the UK leaves the European Union’s without a deal next month, many of their SME clients had not.

The warning came from executives who had been called to a meeting to discuss “Brexit challenges and opportunities” with Mr Javid.

One of those who attended the meeting said the bosses of major UK lenders including HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group were among those highlighting continuing concerns about the readiness of small businesses (SMEs) and possible implications for their supply chains.

The government is this week rolling out a communications campaign to encourage preparations for a no-deal Brexit, on which it is expected to spend more than £100m.

At Monday afternoon’s summit, which was attended by about 20 leading City figures, Mr Javid was told of ongoing concerns about the cut-off point for temporary regulatory permissions to enable trading with the EU, and rules affecting the clearing of billions of pounds of derivatives traded in London.

Among those present at the meeting were Jes Staley, Barclays chief executive; Goldman Sachs International CEO Richard Gnodde; and David Schwimmer, CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group.

The summit, revealed by Sky News on Sunday, was the first substantive Brexit discussion that Mr Javid had held with senior financiers since becoming chancellor in July.

Bruce Carnegie-Brown, chairman of Lloyd’s of London; Sir John Kingman, chairman of Legal & General; and Sir Howard Davies, chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, also attended.

One person who was at the meeting described it as “a photo opportunity for Mr Javid to show that he was engaging with the financial services sector” – one of the engines of the UK economy.

Another attendee said the meeting was constructive and praised the chancellor for reassuring the City about his commitment to it.

Mr Javid was asked about measures he was prepared to take to ensure the industry’s competitiveness after a no-deal Brexit, and is understood to have said there was little of substance he could share at this stage.

A significant number of those who attended the talks with Mr Javid have argued publicly against a no-deal Brexit on the basis of its prospective impact on the UK economy and the City’s ability to retain its status as leading global financial centre.

Many of the companies represented at Monday’s meeting have put in place extensive and costly contingency plans to enable them to continue trading with EU member states after 31 October.

These have included securing licences in other EU countries and relocating employees to offices within the bloc.
Some of the companies invited to meet Mr Javid, such as Nationwide, are domestically focused, while others, including Standard Chartered, have a comparatively limited presence in the UK.

Among the other notable names who attended the meeting were Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group; Paul Manduca, Prudential chairman; Joe Garner, Nationwide CEO; Noel Quinn, interim CEO of HSBC Holdings; Daniel Pinto, co-president and chief operating officer of JP Morgan Chase; Jon Dye, chief executive of Allianz UK; and Sir Adrian Montague, the Aviva chairman.

Some of the companies at Monday’s talks, including Goldman and JPMorgan, made substantial donations to the campaign to remain in the EU.