Exclusive: StanChart presses on with Frankfurt job moves as EU rejects Brexit plan

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Standard Chartered has started interviewing candidates for about 20 banking jobs it is moving to Frankfurt due to Brexit, the chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

The Asia, Africa and Middle East-focused lender had previously said it was applying to convert its branch in Frankfurt into a subsidiary to serve clients in the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford told Reuters in London that the bank was pressing on with the plans to move the positions “because that provides a degree of certainty irrespective of what will happen on the political front, we will continue with that.” He said interviews for job posts had begun.

British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday the EU should allow banks access to the bloc’s financial services markets after Brexit, making moves like StanChart’s unnecessary. But the EU, in draft guidelines for a trade deal, rebuffed that plan.

Halford’s comments show how banks are pushing ahead with plans to move staff and operations to Europe, fearing Britain will fail to secure a deal that would give banks a similar level of access to the bloc that they have now.

Goldman Sachs has put more than a dozen banking, sales and trading staff now based in Britain on notice to move to Frankfurt within weeks, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

Halford said halting the relocations became more difficult as time passed without clarity on Britain’s future ties with the EU, and as the bank allocated resources to the move.

“As each month goes by and we actually not just have the concept of 20 people but we have the hard names of 20 people getting inked in ... the more difficult it becomes,” he said.

“The clock is ticking,” he said. “If you want an assured, continuity of activity there does come a point where unfortunately you’ve got to get on with these things and just say, even if there was a change of mind on other fronts, it may arrive too late.”

Editing by Silvia Aloisi and Edmund Blair