BoE warns of post-Brexit financial services disruption

LONDON (AFP) – The Bank of England (BoE) said yesterday that United Kingdom (UK) banks remained “resilient” to the risks of Brexit and coronavirus, but warned financial services could face “disruption” when the transition period ends.

The central bank’s Financial Policy Committee, tasked with safeguarding the financial system, added that Britain’s major banks were capable of absorbing GBP200 billion in credit losses.

“Financial sector preparations for the end of the transition period with the European Union (EU) are now in their final stages,” the FPC said in its financial stability report.

“Most risks to UK financial stability that could arise from disruption to the provision of cross-border financial services at the end of the transition period have been mitigated” thanks to extensive preparations by the private sector and authorities, it said.

“However, financial stability is not the same as market stability or the avoidance of any disruption to users of financial services,” the report noted.

“Some market volatility and disruption to financial services, particularly to EU-based clients, could arise,” it warned.

The news came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Britain could crash out of the EU without a trade deal after top-level talks floundered in Brussels. Britain left the EU on January 31 this year but remains under its rules under December 31 while it tries to establish the terms of its new relationship.

Yet the Bank of England’s key committee expressed optimism yesterday in banks’ ability to withstand more turmoil.

“The FPC judges that the UK banking system remains resilient to a wide range of possible economic outcomes,” the FPC said.

“It has the capacity to continue to support businesses and households even if economic outcomes are considerably worse than currently expected” thanks to the build-up of substantial buffers of capital since the global financial crisis.

UK banks have already absorbed GBP20 billion in credit losses in 2020 as a result of chronic fallout from the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, it noted.

Britain has been one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic with the most deaths in Europe and an 11 per cent contraction in the economy, the worst in three centuries.