French financial regulators throw open their arms to the victims of Brexit

Optimists believe Brexit will cost the City of London 15-20% of its business. [joenevill/Flickr]

France will accelerate and simplify the registration of financial companies looking to leave the City of London ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU, the country’s regulators announced on Wednesday (28 September). EURACTIV’s partner La Tribune reports.

France is rolling out the red carpet in a bid to entice London’s banks, funds and FinTech start-ups to cross the Channel. The Financial Markets Regulator (AMF) and the Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR) announced on Wednesday that they were “making arrangements to receive the British establishments that want to set up in France”.

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In a joint press release, the two financial authorities said the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union “could have consequences for the businesses that are based there and that carry out all or some of their activities in other countries of the Union, under the principles of free movement of services and freedom of establishment”.

“When it concerns the resumption of activities already supervised by the competent authority in the country of origin, the approval procedure can be accelerated and simplified, using the documents that are already available in English,” the authorities added.

Pre-authorisation notification in two weeks

Brexit could cause the City to lose its “European passport”, which allows locally-authorised businesses to access the EU single market.

The companies concerned will have “an Anglophone case manager” who will guide the procedure and give advice “even before the approval documents are submitted”.

The AMF, which is “preparing to support traditional and innovative companies registered in the United Kingdom”, is also launching a “complete support mechanism” called “Agility”, and aimed at enticing financial management and FinTech companies based in London to move to France.

Another mainstay of France’s programme to boost its attractiveness to the financial sector is a pre-authorisation notification called the “2WeekTicket”, designed to allow companies that are already approved by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to complete the French registration process in just two weeks. And the AMF already has a dedicated page in English.

“Regulatory sandbox”

The French financial services regulator insists that its approach differs from the British “sandbox” approach, under which start-ups benefit from lighter, tailor-made regulation to encourage them to experiment with new products. According to the AMF, the French competitor to the “regulatory sandbox” will offer “both solidity and proportionality”.

“The AMF’s approach to attractiveness and innovation is based on the idea that in order to gain the trust of savers and investors in FinTech, and to be legitimate in their international development, these actors need to respect the European regulatory framework,” the press release said.

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These initiatives are part of a broader effort by the Paris stock market to turn Brexit into an opportunity for the country. Other capitals and financial centres, like Berlin and Frankfurt, are making similar efforts to attract businesses that fear losing out if they stay in London.

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