Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is freaking out the City of London as many fear that a jobs exodus in the capital’s financial sector is on the way.
But staff at Barclays told Business Insider that actually they are really positive about the future and CEO Jes Staley has done a great job at making them feel that regardless of when Brexit will happen, jobs and the bank’s health will be protected as much as possible.
“[Staley] thanked us all for our performance during Brexit,” said one investment banking employee who attended the company-wide town hall meeting this week. “All our systems were up and we were available for all our customers on the day. He also mentioned that the event further justified the advantage of being a transatlantic bank because despite sterling going down, Barclays’ dollar business went suitably up.”
“He also mentioned how the main focus for turning profit this year will be the sale of the non-core businesses, which is completely unaffected by Brexit, so we should be in really good stead by the end of next year. And finally, he told us how, regardless, of what rules happen [in the event of a Brexit] within the next two years, related to EU work visas, he said he’d try his best and keep everyone working here because he wants to retain talent.”
Another bank employee told BI that Staley highlighted the fact that since Barclays is a transatlantic bank, it was diversified enough to weather any downturn in one unit. For example, if the UK investment banking arm was hit temporarily, the US arm would buoy it up with business.
“Staley spoke with ease and confidence, which put myself and my colleagues at ease. With so much uncertainty in the current climate, it was refreshing to have this conviction, staunch plans of action — we have been planning for this day for the last year and these plans are already in motion. I feel reassured that the bank is moving in a positive direction,” said one long-time investment bank employee.
And the feeling that Staley was the right man to lead the bank through turbulent times seemed to resonate across staff.
“What Staley said in the town hall meeting is what you would expect a CEO to say but it is such a treat given that [the previous CEO] Antony Jenkins used to never do this. All he’d do was apologise on our behalf,” said an investment banking staff member to BI.
Barclays bats away Brexit concerns
Uncertainty over the City of London’s role as Europe’s key financial hub, once the UK leaves the European Union, means that many banks are thought to be considering moving substantial numbers of staff away from their UK operations and to elsewhere on the continent.
Over the last week it was rumoured that Morgan Stanley is preparing to move thousands of staff out of Britain, a rumour that was denied. JP Morgan is also among the banks that could send UK-based staff elsewhere in the aftermath of Brexit. Business Insider also reported that Goldman Sachs is among the major banks that could move staff away from the UK and into other EU countries in the coming months.
However, some banks have publicly insisted that they are not going to shift jobs to the EU. HSBC and Barclays are two of those banks. HSBC chairman Douglas Flint said at an event in Britain’s capital this week that a Brexit would not prompt a review of the bank’s headquarters.
Meanwhile Staley is doing everything he can to mitigate any concerns from staff and the public, after Barclays’ shares, along with most of other British banking stocks, were being pummelled at one point this week — although most of the stocks’ losses were retraced by the Friday close.
The day after the Brexit vote, BI exclusively reported that Staley told employees in an internal memo that he did “not pretend to have all the answers” but he did reassure his staff, however, that the bank would “not break our stride in delivering the Barclays of the future.”
While Barclays also, in tandem, released a public statement on its website detailing key steps the bank has taken to prepare for a Leave vote, Staley in the employee memo addressed concerns over EU work rules and said he would fight to keep staff here. After that, he went on BBC TV and again insisted that he would not move jobs out of the UK.
Overall staff at Barclays seem to be pretty calm about it all and mainly this is down to Staley’s leadership and transparency over the shock Brexit vote.
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