London has flourished as a financial center for decades in part because global banks, from offices around the bustling City of London district, could sell their services freely around the European Union’s 28-nation trading bloc. Now that British voters have decided to leave the EU — the complicated international divorce known as Brexit — the city’s status as a banking hub is under threat. If U.K. firms lose easy access to Europe’s $19 trillion economy, which seems likely under the terms laid out by Prime Minister Theresa May, Britain becomes a far less attractive place to do business.
London could lose 10,000 jobs in banking and 20,000 roles in the larger field of financial services, according to Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank. Other estimates range wildly from as many as 232,000 jobs to as few as 4,000, so view them with some skepticism. Executives at banks including Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have said they are considering moving staff and operations out of Britain to service their EU clients. The top five U.S. investment banks keep about 90 percent of their EU-based employees in London.