UK markets watchdog asks asset managers for their Brexit plans

LONDON, May 31 (Reuters) - Britain’s markets watchdog said on Wednesday it had asked asset managers and investment firms to spell out how Brexit would affect their ability to continue serving European Union customers.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has asked about 20 firms what impact Britain leaving the EU in March 2019 will have on them, and whether they need to move staff to the bloc.

“It is important for us as supervisors to understand the plans that our regulated firms have regarding Brexit,” the FCA said in a statement.

“This was not a formal data request and was not asking firms to undertake any further work. These conversations are to help us understand what work firms are already doing to prepare for Brexit.”

Regulators are keen to avoid disorderly ruptures in cross-border customer links that could undermine financial stability. The Bank of England has already sent a similar request to banks with a deadline of July 14.

Last week, Legal & General said it would move some of its investment management operations to Ireland to ensure it can continue to serve its customers after Brexit. It follows plans by rival fund manager M&G to set up a management company in Luxembourg.

Currently, EU rules allow a fund manager in London to sell and manage funds across the bloc, but it is unclear whether that will continue to the same extent after Brexit as the shape of future UK-EU trading relations has yet to be hammered out.

The Financial Times first reported the FCA request on Wednesday. (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter)