Banks to London staff: no panic as Britain launches EU divorce process

Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:54pm EDT
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By Anjuli Davies and Andrew MacAskill

LONDON (Reuters) - Banks in Britain have tried to reassure their London staff over possible Brexit disruption, including a shift in jobs to continental Europe, as Prime Minister Theresa May triggered formal EU divorce proceedings on Wednesday.

Investment banks Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Nomura were among those who sent messages to employees in London, Europe's biggest financial center, as they work out how to keep serving clients across the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc.

Morgan Stanley also informed employees in Europe that no decisions had yet been made on changes for when Britain departs, leaving the EU with 27 member states.

But Rob Rooney, CEO of Morgan Stanley International, was blunter in updating them on the work of a committee comprising senior leaders at the bank which has been making Brexit contingency plans for over a year.

"As prudence would dictate, we have been preparing for a worst case scenario, in which we would need to establish a more significant entity within the EU 27," Rooney said in a memo to staff on Wednesday seen by Reuters.

"We continue to monitor the situation closely and, when appropriate, will take the necessary decisions and begin to execute on our plans."

JPMorgan Chase said in an internal memo that it has spent the last few months reviewing its options. "While our objective in the short term is to limit the number of staff moves, there will inevitably be some staff who will be asked to consider relocation," the bank said.

Richard Gnodde, CEO of the European arm of Goldman Sachs, stressed that no big changes were imminent even though he said last week that the Wall Street bank would begin by moving hundreds of staff as part of its "contingency plans" for Brexit.   Continued...

Workers walk to work during the morning rush hour in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London, Britain, January 26, 2017.  REUTERS/Eddie Keogh