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Escape To Luxembourg

Investment managers shift gaze post Brexit


Northern Trust follows in the steps of other investment and financial managers by picking Luxembourg as its new EU home in response to Brexit. Apart from increased uncertainty and volatility of the British pound, investment managers may incur costs of moving employees and operations to an EU member state, if they are unable to retain their EU services passport, which enables businesses regulated in an EU country to conduct its activities across EU markets without the need for domestic authorisation.

“Firms may be willing to operate out of other locations or legal entities, should the need arise”

Twelve months after the UK voted to exit the EU (Brexit, or what some might describe as an escape from the EU), British Prime Minister Theresa May has invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which formally signals an intention to separate from the political and economic union. The Article sets out the provisions governing member states’ withdrawal from the EU in-line with specific guidelines provided by the European Council. These developments underpin Northern Trust’s strategic focus on Luxembourg, guided by its continued intention to grow from a base in the economic union.


“Outwardly, the UK economy and UK markets have held up well since last June, defying predictions of imminent demise. Forecasts for real growth this year have been upgraded several times, and the FTSE index of large capitalization stocks is more than 20% higher today than it was immediately after the balloting,” reported a weekly economic commentary from Northern Trust executives, Carl Tannenbaum, Executive Vice President and Chief Economist; Asha Bangalore, Senior Vice President and Economist; and Ankit Mital, Associate Economist. “But a closer look reveals cracks in this reassuring veneer. Since the Brexit referendum, the British pound has weakened by more than 10% against the U.S. dollar and nearly 20% against a trade-weighted basket of currencies. This has caused inflation to rise, reducing the purchasing power of British consumers. Real personal spending, which makes up more than 60% of UK gross domestic product (GDP), may consequently grow more slowly in the coming quarters.”


Escape as Contingency

For Northern Trust, establishing their EU presence in Luxembourg is a contingency which shields from a variety of implications from Brexit. This suggests that firms may be willing to operate out of other locations or legal entities, should the need arise.


As investment firms respond to Brexit concerns by establishing hubs within the EU, particularly in Luxembourg, and as British Prime Minister Theresa May begins serious consultation with businesses, more will be required to inspire confidence in firms that the UK remains the global financial centre of choice for companies looking to access the European Single Market.



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