Luxembourg fund managers will miss UK influence

Ever since the UK’s referendum decision to leave the European Union in 2016, some of the more right-wing elements of the British media have painted a picture of the remaining EU27 countries as thieving magpies, keen to punish the country for voting for Brexit by attracting as many jobs from the City of London as possible and to bring the country to its knees economically.

A recent visit to asset managers in Luxembourg by The Lens revealed the opposite. Despite the fact that the Grand Duchy has so far been one of the main beneficiaries (in terms of jobs and assets transferred) of Brexit, there is more sadness than glee in the UK’s imminent departure from the world’s largest trading bloc.

Denise Voss, chair of the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (Alfi), believes that – despite the transfer of €135 billion to Luxembourg last year from firms such M&G Investments and Columbia Threadneedle – Brexit will ultimately be a “lose-lose” for Luxembourg.

The reasons she cites include the loss of a key liberal voice in EU law-making as well as the business uncertainty thrown up by the inability of British politicians to coalesce around a vision of the country’s future trading relationship with Europe.

Brexit created a major headache for the Luxembourg funds industry in 2017 when France pushed for rules on the delegation of funds – which allows funds domiciled in one country to be managed in a different country – to be reviewed.

While that threat to Luxembourg’s business model appears to have abated for now, with so much continuing uncertainty around Brexit the full impact on the UK’s and Europe’s funds industry has yet to be established.