JP Morgan primes staff to leave UK in no-deal Brexit

Pedro Gonçalves
JP Morgan primes staff to leave UK in no-deal Brexit

JP Morgan has asked over 300 staff members to sign new contracts to move to France or Germany in the wake of a no-deal Brexit, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

The affected staff were warned months ago of the possibility, but with JP Morgan activating its Brexit contingency plans, they now must decide whether to move or risk losing their jobs, the people said. The bank plans to redeploy staff to other roles in order to avoid layoffs, one person told Bloomberg.

So far, JP Morgan has shifted only a few dozen staff to continental Europe, preferring to wait until absolutely necessary before committing to Brexit moves. Staff who have to move on "day one of Brexit are fully briefed and are on stand-by", according to a person familiar with the bank's plans. Any delay to Brexit means staff moves will also be postponed.

Speaking last week on a call with reporters,  chief executive officer Jamie Dimon said the extension of the Brexit deadline would not remove uncertainty, and warned that a no-deal withdrawal would be a 'huge negative' for the UK 'Brexit is obviously a negative. It's been a negative for a while,' he said.

JP Morgan staff who are asked to move will be given a six-month package that allows them to commute between London and their new European location, according to people familiar with the plans. The bank will also pay for temporary accommodation for a similar period of time.

Major banks have been spending millions gearing up for the UK to leave the EU. Bank of America has spent around $400m on preparing for Brexit, which has seen the bank move some operations from London to Dublin and Paris.  

Barclays has spent $100m to $200m moving operations and staff out of Britain to prepare for Brexit, its UK chairman Gerry Grimstone said.

HSBC has set aside £128m as a contingency plan for Brexit, making it the latest banking giant to make provisions in anticipation of bad loans spiking in the UK after the country leaves the EU.

The move comes shortly after stated-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) made a £100m provision in October to account for bad debts rising due to Brexit. JP Morgan has spent more than $100m on its Brexit preparations so far.