Regulator sets out Brexit risks

Foreign banks insurers and other finance firms could overwhelm the Bank of England's resources if they all apply for licences around Brexit

He explained that restructuring firms to mitigate risks will generally increase complexity, for example with firms that are based in the United Kingdom but want to sell to clients in the EU.

Sam Woods made the comments in a letter to the UK's Treasury Select Committee chair, Nicky Morgan MP, who had asked Woods for an update on the preparedness of the United Kingdom financial sector for Brexit and how firms would cope with a scenario where the United Kingdom leaves the European Union with no withdrawal agreement or trade deal.

The Bank of England has previously highlighted other issues, noting that fragmentation of the European Union financial services market could push up costs and risks for finance firms and their customers.

It also warned of the risk to the United Kingdom economy from potential disruption to trade and the need for banks to be braced for higher bad debt charges if loans turned sour owing to Brexit-related economic turbulence.

The boss of its Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA), the arm of the Bank responsible for regulating banks and insurers, claims that any added complexity will place a "material extra burden" on its supervisory arm.

"I have also asked Mr Woods for his views on the desirability and design of a transitional arrangement with the EU, to provide more time to negotiate and prepare for a new UK-EU economic relationship".


Woods wrote that financial services are in danger of becoming dislocated and fragmented after Brexit.

PRA boss Sam Woods revealed the Bank's latest assessment after more than 400 financial services firms responded to its request for details on their contingency planning.

The Bank of England has warned it could struggle with the burden of regulating London's financial sector after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

This would create more complex corporations with "strongly inter-connected entities between the United Kingdom and EU" that could make the industry more hard to oversee, he claimed.

Mr Woods said that the PRA has received 401 responses from United Kingdom and European companies which operate in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the EU, with "a handful of very small insurers" yet to reply.

He also warned that the regulator could suffer a significant "material extra burden" by having to regulate more firms when Brexit is undertaken and noted that this and several other concerns posed "a material risk to our objectives, and this work is therefore a top priority". It has warned it may need to ask for more if the biggest risks around Brexit crystallise.

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