"We passport throughout Europe through our Gibraltar office and for over a year now we’ve been making contingency plans to move the business if we had to another EU jurisdiction and those plans are very well advanced," he told International Adviser.
The news follows Britain’s unprecedented decision to leave the European Union, which was announced on Friday morning.
Blacktower, a UK, Gibraltar and Cayman-regulated IFA currently provides advice to expats across Spain, Portugal and France, with 15 regional offices across Europe.
Under the current system, financial services firms headquartered in EU member states have the automatic right to sell services across the 28-nation bloc with low costs and a single set of rules known as ‘passporting’.
It’s likely the proviso, which currently applies to the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, will have to be renegotiated with the EU as part of Britain’s exit strategy, although the formal two-year process to leave will not be announced until later this year.
"We passport throughout Europe through our Gibraltar office and for over a year now we’ve been making contingency plans to move the business."
Describing the outcome of the referendum as “seismic”, Westwood said the firm is considering whether or not it should move its entire international operations to an alternative EU state so that it can continue to do business across Europe unhindered.
“It’s an enormous challenge, enormous upheaval, enormous cost but something we may have to do if we feel that it’s necessary. We would possibly move the whole business to another EU member state,” he said.
Although he could not confirm the location, Westwood said the move is still awaiting regulatory approval and would likely go ahead in the coming months.
It comes despite reassurance from British prime minister David Cameron – given during his resignation speech Friday morning just hours after a Brexit was confirmed – that UK citizens living in the EU would experience “no immediate change in circumstances”.
Paul Stanfield, chief executive of the Federation of European IFAs (Feifa), the vote outcome is a journey into the unknown.
“This is unprecedented territory, so none of us know what is going to happen next, especially from a point of view of financial services regulation. A lot of it is now down to negotiation and agreement between 28 countries,” he told International Adviser.