HSBC could keep more jobs in Britain depending on whether the government pursues a hard or soft Brexit, its UK chief executive has said.
Ian Stuart’s comments signalled that a more accommodative approach from Prime Minister Theresa May on Brexit could result in a smaller City exodus after the UK leaves the EU.
HSBC, which currently has 43,000 employees in the UK, revealed in January that it was planning to move “activities covered specifically by European financial regulation” to the EU, resulting in about 1,000 jobs being shifted to the Continent.
• READ MORE: HSBC set to move 1,000 jobs to Paris after PM speech
“Depending on a hard or soft Brexit, that number might be slightly less than that, so it’s going to be updated all the time,” Stuart told BBC Breakfast today.
“We’re still in uncharted waters today and we don’t know exactly how it’s going to look, so we’ve got to plan ahead.”
A number of banks announced similar contingency plans after May confirmed that Britain will ditch the single market, which would subsequently see City firms lose passporting rights that provide wide-ranging EU access for UK-based financial services.
JP Morgan – which currently has 16,000 staff in the UK – has said it will ramp up operations at a number of its EU sites, with plans to move up to 1,000 London jobs to offices in Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg in light of Brexit.
• READ MORE: JP Morgan in Dublin docklands move to address Brexit
Standard Chartered has contacted German regulators about plans to set up a Frankfurt subsidiary, and Japanese banks Nomura and Daiwa are also understood to be on track to expand their operations in the German city.
But HSBC’s group chief executive Stuart Gulliver said in January that the bank was in “no rush” to shift operations away from the UK, given that it already has a full service universal bank within the EU after buying up Credit Commercial de France in 2002.
Stuart today reiterated HSBC’s commitment to Britain, saying the bank would be here for “many years to come”.
• HSBC today launched a £500 million lending fund to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland, its largest package of support for firms north of the Border and an increase on the £450m it allocated last year, writes Gareth Mackie.
Andrew Little, the lender’s regional director for Scotland, said: “The launch of this fund reaffirms our commitment to support the growth of Scottish SMEs of all sizes, from start-ups to established businesses.
“We have so many ambitious businesses in our region who are keen to grow locally, nationally and internationally. This fund is all about helping those businesses make investments that will enable them to achieve their goals while stimulating our local economy and creating jobs.”