Some weeks ago I was talking to someone who had voted to leave the EU in the recent referendum who was asking about employment prospects for his son in the City. It was a tricky conversation in which I only just resisted the urge to be brutal.
Theresa May spoke at a banquet at The Guildhall on Monday this week which was a moment to assure the City that her government recognises the role played by financial services and the contribution that it makes to the country. For those hopeful that she might talk about passporting, the complexity that the UK will face in dealing with European customers in the absence of a common regulatory policy, there was disappointment. Instead there was a repeat of a previous theme that a global elite is responsible for the widening social gap and the dissatisfaction demonstrated both by the Brexit vote and the recent US election result.
The word being used in many board rooms in recent months has evidently been “contingency” and this cannot come as a surprise. If regulated businesses, banks, funds, financial and insurance brokers risk being unable to continue to do business with a significant proportion of their customers, they have to plan to locate to where this risk can be neutralised. With two years to set up and staff a regulated business in the EU, real estate agents from Paris to Frankfurt are being kept busy. So the answer to the man whose son was looking for a career in banking was that family reunions in future may take place in Luxembourg- not entirely what he wanted to hear.