Bank Watch

Bank of America to employees: Brexit impact will take months to unfold

Bank of America say Friday it expects to get a clearer understanding in the coming months of what the U.K.’s vote to exit the European Union will mean for the company and its large presence in Britain. For banks, revenues could be impacted if demand for lending from businesses falls because of uncertainty created by Brexit fallout.
Bank of America say Friday it expects to get a clearer understanding in the coming months of what the U.K.’s vote to exit the European Union will mean for the company and its large presence in Britain. For banks, revenues could be impacted if demand for lending from businesses falls because of uncertainty created by Brexit fallout. AP

Bank of America says it expects to get a clearer understanding in the coming months of what the U.K.’s vote to exit the European Union will mean for the company and its large presence in Britain.

The Charlotte-based company made the comments in an internal memo to employees Friday morning.

“As you are aware, the UK has voted to leave the European Union,” Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s European arm, says in the memo. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the name for the bank’s business that includes corporate and investment banking.

“In the coming months, we will get a much clearer understanding of what the implications of this might be for our business, as well as the decisions that we will need to make before the change in membership becomes effective,” he said.

Britain is home to one of Bank of America’s four principal offices, according to a securities filing in February. Bank of America has a Merrill Lynch Financial Center comprising 565,931 square feet it leases across a four-building campus.

Bank of America’s three other principal offices are in Charlotte, New York and Hong Kong.

A Bank of America spokeswoman declined to disclose the company’s headcount in Britain, saying the bank does not typically break out the figure. Worldwide, Bank of America employed 213,000 people as of the end of the third quarter, including about 15,000 in Charlotte.

This week’s vote to leave the EU is creating large uncertainty about the implications for companies and economies in the U.S. and elsewhere. Among other things, the move could push up the value of the dollar, lowering demand for American exports.

For banks, revenues could suffer if demand for lending from businesses falls because of uncertainty created by Brexit fallout.

In the memo, Wilmot-Sitwell seeks to reassure Merrill’s employees.

“It is to our advantage that we work in an organization that has a long track record of thriving on change – be it regulatory, market or strategic,” he said.

The memo says Merrill’s immediate focus “must not be on ourselves but on ensuring that we are squarely behind our clients during these unprecedented times.”

“Across each of our areas of business, we have many clients who will be reflecting on the changes that they will need to make in the light of the UK’s decision. We must make sure that we are a vital contributor to that strategic dialogue and the first port of call when they are ready to transact their business,” the memo says.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

  Comments