LONDON — The head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) in Europe says it is “too soon to tell” whether the division will have to move jobs out of the UK as a result of Brexit and played down reports that Goldman is secretly planning to relocate roles.
Andrew Wilson, CEO of GSAM in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, told Business Insider: “We’ll definitely ensure we’re able to continue to operate in Europe. Whether that means we’ll need some, none, a few people in Europe? It’s way too soon to tell.
“Article 50 hasn’t been triggered so to think, what do the rules look like under which we can operate — because Europe is a big market for us and we absolutely will continue to be there and need to be there — what that means from a regulatory process, from a legal standpoint, nobody knows.”
Major investment banks such as JPMorgan and UBS have publicly warned that they will have to move jobs out of the UK and to mainland Europe after Prime Minister Theresa May made clear she will take Britain out of the single market. This means banks would lose passporting rights, which allow them to sell financial services across the EU from Britain. A Brussels think tank estimated earlier this year as many as 30,000 jobs could move as a result.
Goldman Sachs has stayed quiet on job moves but earlier this year German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that Goldman is considering slashing its UK staff by up to 50%, equivalent to relocating 3,000 jobs.
Wilson did not refer to the report specifically, but told BI: “Sometimes the press latch on to something which is, frankly, factually incorrect and that gets out there.”
A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs has said in the past: “We continue to work through all possible implications of the Brexit vote. There remain numerous uncertainties as to what the Brexit negotiations will yield in terms of an operating framework for the banking industry. As a result we have not taken any decisions as to what our eventual response will be.”
He said that he was reassuring staff internally that no decisions had been taken yet and the outlook for job moves, at GSAM, is minimal.
“There’s definitely a degree of concern over ‘oh my goodness, are we going to move or are we not going to move?’ There’s been a bit more time of saying to people, calm down,” Wilson said.
“If we need to have some people in Europe to continue what we’re doing, that’s what we’ll do. We don’t expect, from an asset managers point of view, that it will be a big number at all, we think it will be relatively small. It’s possible it could be zero, it will depend totally on things like equivalence regimes and things like that.”
Wilson added that events like Brexit, Trump’s surprise election in the US, and the upcoming elections across Europe had boosted business at GSAM, which manages investments on people’s behalf.
He said: “I think this year will be fascinating. For an investor, volatility and uncertainty is good from an asset management perspective, right? It provides a very fertile environment.”
Kathleen Hughes, a managing director at GSAM, said: “The first half of last year, all our clients were just paralysed. It was the volatility in Q1, the Brexit in Q2 and as disruptive as Brexit was, it proved to be a big catalyst and that got exacerbated and accelerated after the US election.
“I think clients are 100% more engaged right now than they were this time a year ago. They have more challenges, they need more insight, they want to know what the solutions might be. The engagement levels and the willingness to do something is just much, much higher.”
Get the latest Goldman Sachs stock price here.