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Banks and Brexit: investors count cost in financials sector

Banks and Brexit: investors count cost in financials sector

Among the most under pressure assets post-Brexit are financial institutions, both in and outside of the UK.

We've rounded up cross-border views on what the vote means for the international banking community.

Commenting on the Bank of England's fiscal policy, Stephanie Flanders, JP Morgan's chief market strategist for UK and Europe, questioned comments made by the UK chancellor earlier this week.

Bank of England

'George Osborne when he talked about a Brexit budget said there would be an instant need to tighten.'

'With the greatest respect to our chancellor, we don’t know whether he will still be a chancellor in a few months time, I think the immediate impact in response to a slower economy will be a loosening of fiscal policy, one that he can't control because of the weakening of the economy'.

Meanwhile BoE governor Mark Carney confirmed in an address on Friday morning that Brexit contingency plans are already underway.

He said UK banks had raised £130bn of new capital, £600 billion of high quality assets and £250 billion in liquidity on standby to provide to markets.

UK vs European banks

Covering asset management, Jupiter's financials specialist Guy de Blonay said Brexit was not a positive event for UK banks.

In his Jupiter Financial Opportunities fund he has 15% of exposure to UK listed stocks, of which more than half derive 50% or more of their earnings from outside of the UK.

On the post-Brexit environment he said:

'One still has to acknowledge that there is downside risk for UK banks with higher funding costs, GDP risk, housing market risk and passporting issues'.

He also added that European bank shares have largely held up despite downgrades to their earnings per share forecasts.

'Falling inflation expectations, a lower Euribor, weaker margins and persistent asset quality issues mean we continue to think there is downside risk to consensus EPS for the sector'.

Mixed feelings

Paul Vrouwes, a Citywire +rated manager of several financial funds at NNIP on the contrary thinks UK banks are going to suffer most as a result of the vote.

'I would say continental banks, in particular in the Nordic countries, are more immune to this shock. Nordic economies are stable, while their banks are more domestic and have less foreign exposure. Swedish banks, for instance have less exposure to the UK and more to the US.'

He has witnessed a wide discrepancy in how financials have traded in the aftermath of the vote.

'For instance, HSBC, which has a significant exposure outside of the UK is only 4% down, while Barclays is 14% down. Lloyds is 21% down as we speak'

'Spanish bank Santander has 1/5 of it is operation in the UK and will be hit harder than other Spanish or Italian banks'

London as a global financial hub

One London based independent asset manager however is looking on the bright side. John Morton, executive chairman of independent asset managers European Wealth Group believes the UK capital will to remain its global reputation, despite being outside of the European Union.

'The vote results overnight came as a surprise for me. However it is going to put a bigger question mark over Europe than the UK and I think if I were a CEO of one of the big investment banks I probably wouldn't relocate from the UK to Europe at this stage'.

'What we don’t know what the future holds for Europe now. Because clearly we've got elections in Spain this weekend, there is already talk about Dutch having a referendum about staying in Europe'.

Morton thinks the financials in the UK will survive the Brexit blow.

'Certainly some names like Lloyds made a major shift to be a domestic, which might work to its benefit mitigating international risk. However it also increases risk to the domestic economy'

'The Bank of England will be accommodating for institutions if it needs to. I don’t think there is much risk for the financial system as it was in 2010 period.'

On the potential impact on cross-border flows, he added: 'It would be absolutely foolhardy to set up any flow barriers. Also those barriers can't go up until everyone knows on what basis the UK is going to leave the EU'.

'David Cameron said this morning the process will last for some time and it will have to be triggered by the article 50 first. All we’ve got this morning is more questions, which encourages people to do nothing'.

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