1000 EU financial firms plan to open UK offices

About 1,000 EU finance firms are eyeing up opening offices in the UK for the first time, according to financial consultancy Bovill.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the firm found that 1,500 money managers, payment firms and insurers have applied for permission to continue operating in the UK after Brexit.

Around two-thirds had no prior physical operations in Britain, it said. It suggests London “is set to remain a key global financial centre”.

“Many of these European firms will be opening offices for the first time, which is good news for UK professional advice firms across multiple industries including lawyers, accountants, consultants and recruiters.” said Mike Johnson, managing consultant at Bovill.

He added that business from the firms should provide a welcome boost to the service sector, too.

There have been worries over how the UK’s financial sector will be affected by Brexit. Last month, London was ousted by Amsterdam as the largest financial trading centre in Europe as Brexit-related changes to finance rules came into force.

Bovill’s analysis of the FOI request with the Financial Conduct Authority found that more than 400 insurance firms as well as more than 100 banks plan to move to or boost their presence in the UK.

Geographically, the highest number of applications came from companies in Ireland, France and Germany.

Some 230 Irish firms were on the list, with 186 from France and 168 from Germany.

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

“In practical terms, these figures mean that European firms will be buying office space, hiring staff and engaging legal and professional advisers in the UK,” 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,” said Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson said the figures indicated the importance of reaching a decision on financial services equivalence between the EU and UK.

“They 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.”

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