Why ‘Brexit’ matters to US financial firms

Held in New York, on Friday November 18, 2016.

Hosted by Clifford Chance.


  • Kay Swinburne

  • Mark Boleat

  • Anthony Belchambers

  • Nick O’Neill

  • John Authers



The June 23 referendum vote in the UK was, by some margin, the biggest thing to hit the European Union in at least a decade. For Britain and the EU-27, it is both an enormous challenge and – potentially, at least – a big opportunity.

But it is complicated – not least, for the financial services sector, which has traditionally seen the City of London as both a (relatively) benign regulatory environment in which foreign (especially US) firms can thrive and as a gateway to Continental European markets. Now, those firms face a dilemma: do they stick with London in the hope either that „Brexit‟ will not happen or that the UK government will be able to negotiate some sort of deal that permits them to run their European businesses largely unchanged? Or do they pack their bags and go to Paris, or Dublin or (God forbid) Frankfurt?

Formally, negotiations between London and Brussels cannot start until Mrs May has “pressed the button” (ie activated Article 50, which requires that, if there is no agreement, the UK will have to leave the EU after two years). But „pre-negotiations‟ are already underway, and different options are being trailed in the press, in the various Parliaments, and in industry fora. It is getting hard to see the wood for the trees, but what is being discussed will have profound implications for US banks, investment managers, insurers and market infrastructure providers.

We at the CSFI have been looking at EU financial issues from a UK perspective since 1993. And, thanks to our New York affiliate (and a US Advisory Council chaired by Geoffrey Bell), we think we have something to add. We have, therefore, organized a panel discussion, bringing several of the most knowledgeable European observers of the EU financial scene to New York:

  • Kay Swinburne is a Conservative member of the European Parliament, specializing in financial services. She is a former investment banker, and is the UK‟s leading member of the Parliament‟s crucial Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee.

  • Mark Boleat is the Policy Chairman, City of London (which means he is the Corporation of London‟s political leader) and a member of the European Financial Services Chairmen‟s Advisory Committee.

  • Anthony Belchambers is the industry chairman of the UK‟s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wholesale Markets and of the Financial Services Negotiating Forum (a group that is trying to bring City “remainers” and “leavers” together). He is also non-exec chairman of Saxo Capital Markets and a non-exec director of Westpac Europe.

  • Nick O‟Neill, has been a partner with Clifford Chance since 2000. In 2012, he relocated to New York, where he specializes in advising US clients on banking and investment services regulation in the EU.

  • John Authers, is the senior investment commentator at the Financial Times, where he has spent the last 26 years. His previous positions at the FT have included head of Lex, US markets editor and US banking correspondent.

The intention is to explore some of the technical issues, to look at the various negotiating strategies (on both sides of the Channel), and to discuss the options for third country firms. Essentially: Do they Stay? Or Do they Go?

Like the CSFI events we run in London, I will try to make the discussion as interactive and lively as possible; after all, I am sure there will be a lot of expertise in the room – and not just on the panel. Thanks to the generous hospitality of our hosts at Clifford Chance, I can promise that there will be refreshments in abundance.