HSBC clients seek Europe move ahead of Brexit

Some of HSBC’s larger clients are asking for their business to be moved from the UK to offices in mainland Europe before a final Brexit deal is struck.

HSBC head of global commercial banking Noel Quinn told Bloomberg said that some high-net-worth clients wanted to make sure they could keep trading regardless of what happens in Article 50 negotiations.

Quinn says: “A small number of our larger clients are asking us to book more of their trade and foreign-exchange activity in their French operation through our Paris office than their U.K. divisions.”

“[Clients are] making plans to ensure they can continue to trade irrespective of the outcome. They can’t afford to wait for a decision that may not emerge until two years’ time.”

Contingency plans have already been drawn up by some global banks, who are eyeing a possible pivot away from London with office moves assuming a “hard Brexit” would lose them passporting rights to the EU.

As well as individuals considering their plans, Quinn also says that companies are weighing up whether to “flip” the head office in the region to a European city as opposed to the UK.

Quinn says: “Larger companies that already have a pan-European presence are going to find it easier to invoke a plan B than the smaller ones. They’re not losing faith in the U.K., but the reality is businesses or even individuals themselves will start making their decisions before the answer emerges from the Brexit process.”