‘So much for Project Fear!’ 1,000 EU firms plan UK move – Brexit-hating Ireland tops list

Brexit: Andrew Bailey discusses financial equivalence with EU

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A Freedom of Information request (FOI) by financial regulatory consultancy Bovill revealed almost 1,500 financial companies have applied for permission to continue operating in the UK after Brexit. Political commentator Darren Grimes basked in the glory of the new FOI findings from Bovill, taking a brutal swipe at Brexit scaremongers who insisted the UK would be worse off as a result of Brexit. He tweeted: “1,500 money managers, payment firms and insurers have applied for permission to continue operating in the UK.

“Around two-thirds had no prior physical operations in Britain.

“So much for Brexit killing the UK’s attraction for financial services!”

Around two-thirds of the firms had no prior physical operations in Britain.

The FOI request from last year showed 1,441 firms had applied to the Temporary Permission Regime (TPR), with 83 percent of these on a services passport, meaning they would need to set up an office in the UK for the first time.

Bovill repeated its FOI at the end of December, which found 1,476 firms have signed up to the regime and are awaiting FCA authorisation in order to operate in the UK

But the analysis with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found geographically, the highest number of applications came from companies in Ireland (230), followed by France (186) and Germany (168).

Firms from these three EU member states accounted for more than a third of the 1,476 applications for authorisation to do business in the UK.

Ireland, particularly under the premiership of former Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and his Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, were constantly vocal in their opposition to Brexit during the four years of talks between the UK and EU.

Mike Johnson, managing consultant at Bovill, said: “Ireland at the top of the list is to be expected, given how interlinked the UK and Irish economies are and their shared strength in asset management, a relationship which these numbers suggest will continue post-Brexit.

“France and Germany will be driving much of the EU’s trade negotiation and whilst equivalence rules for the financial services sector are still to be agreed, these numbers show that it is in the economic interest of both sides to secure a mutually beneficial deal.”

Bovill said that with Brexit now complete and the TPR closed, “these represent the final number of firms on the regime, signifying that the UK will continue to be a leading player on the global financial stage”.

Mr Johnson continued: “The numbers from this FOI provide evidence that London is set to remain a key global financial centre.

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“Since many of these European firms will be opening offices for the first time, this is good news for UK professional advice firms across multiple industries including lawyers, accountants, consultants and recruiters.

“Business from these firms should provide a welcome boost to the service sector – the powerhouse of the UK economy.”

He added: “These numbers also indicate the importance of reaching a decision on financial services equivalence between the EU and UK.

“Recently, Amsterdam overtook London as Europe’s largest share trading centre because Brussels has not recognised UK exchanges and trading venues as having the same supervisory status as its own.

“However, the numbers from the FCA suggest that financial services firms across Europe recognise London’s potency as a global financial centre and want to be able to conduct business here.

“Regulatory equivalence decisions would therefore benefit businesses on both sides of the channel.”

Mr Johnson said the results from Bovill’s FOI findings shows the financial services sector in the UK will continue to flourish after Brexit, and will provide a welcome boost as the under-pressure economy begins its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

He concluded: “These numbers are a good indication that the UK financial services sector will continue to be in a strong position post-Brexit.

“The boost to the services sector will be welcome as the economy begins its recovery from the blow of the pandemic.

Project Fear boasts surged earlier this month when it was revealed Amsterdam has overtaken London as Europe’s largest share trading centre following Brexit, with the Netherlands hoovered up billions of pounds of business from the UK.

The data from CBOE Europe for January showed an average of €9.2billion (£8.1billion) worth of shares each day were traded on Euronext Amsterdam and the Dutch arms of CBOE Europe and Turquoise – more than quadruple from the previous month.

But volumes fell sharply in the UK from over €14billion (£12.3billion) to €8.6billion (£7.5billion), knocking Britain from its perch as the main hub for the European market.

The huge slump was triggered by a ban on financial institutions based throughout the EU trading in London following Brexit, with Brussels taking a hardline stance on recognising exchanges and trading venues as having the same supervisory status as its own.

This meant that without this equivalence in trading, €6.5billion (£5.7billion) worth of deals quickly moved to the EU following the end of the Brexit transition on December 31.

But London is fighting back with a vengeance, with shares in Swiss companies now once again able to be traded on UK exchanges after Switzerland’s financial regulator gave the all-clear for the move.

Since June 2019, a spat between the EU and Switzerland saw the bloc’s exchanges banned from Swiss shares but with the completion of Brexit and Britain no longer an EU member state, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority once again approved UK trading venues.

It is a huge boost for London as before the ban, the capital’s exchanges had managed more than a quarter of Swiss shares each day – worth around €1.2billion (£1billion).

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