HSBC has set out plans to move around 1,000 jobs to Paris when the UK leaves the European Union.
It has become the first bank to outline details about moving jobs out of London due to Brexit.
‘We will move in about two years time when Brexit becomes effective,’ the bank’s Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said today, at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
It is a potentially damaging first blow to London’s status as Europe’s main financial centre.
Mr Gulliver made his comments the day after Theresa May confirmed Britain will leave the single market after Brexit.
Currently, financial firms in London are able to take advantage of ‘passporting’, which means they can trade freely across the EU.
But if that is taken away, they could face barriers to trading with the rest of Europe.
‘I don’t see the foreign exchange market moving, the investment grade bond market moving, the equity market moving and the high-yield bond market moving,’ Mr Gulliver said.
‘Specifically what will happen is those activities covered specifically by European financial regulation will need to move, looking at our own numbers – that’s about 20% of the revenue,’ he told Bloomberg Television.
Jobs in those areas would probably go to France, he said.
The comments revive warnings that Brexit could result in an exodus of jobs from the City of London.
Mr Gulliver said there was ‘no rush’ to shift operations, as HSBC can already trade easily with the EU since it bought Credit Commercial de France in 2002.
‘Some of our other fellow bankers have to make decisions pretty quickly now given that the UK said it will come out of the single market about applying for banking licenses in some of the EU countries, we don’t have to do that,’ he said.
However, Mr Gulliver said the UK is still ‘the best place’ for its headquarters, after scrapping proposals to move its base to Hong Kong.
Theresa May is set to meet Wall Street bosses, including JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, on Thursday.
JP Morgan, which employs around 16,000 people in the UK, said earlier this month any British job losses as a result of Brexit would take place over a ‘period of years’.
It previously said about 4,000 jobs could go if Britain loses the right to sell financial services to the EU.