RBS and Lloyds have both said that if Scotland declares independence, they will move their registered offices to England.
The British nationalists have seized on this as a reason to vote no to independence but actually, what problem does this cause? Lloyds is already headquartered in London but employees a disproportionate number of staff in Scotland. RBS has relocated a large number of jobs from England to Scotland since the English taxpayer bailed them out. Both banks have restated their commitment to keeping as much of their operations as is possible in Scotland regardless of where their registered offices are.
Both banks have cited currency and credit rating uncertainty in their decision to move their registration to England if Scotland declares independence but both have omitted to mention the real reason: EU law says that they have to have their registered office in the country in which they do the majority of their business and that’s England for both banks. If RBS and Lloyds want a UK banking licence they’ll have to comply with EU banking law and that means registering in England. If they didn’t move their registered office to England and Scotland joined the EU then they would have to move their registered office to England to comply with EU banking law.
I don’t doubt that both banks are concerned about the implications of a Scottish currency and the impact on credit ratings but as most of their holdings would be held in sterling and most of their business transacted in the rump UK it shouldn’t really make that much difference but again, EU banking law requires them to be risk averse. The fact that both banks are part-owned by the British Treasury undoubtedly comes with a heap of pressure from the British government to support their position.
The bottom line is, if RBS and Lloyds move their registered offices to England it will have no real effect on Scotland. The number of Scottish jobs are almost certain to remain the same, as is the rate of job transfers from England to Scotland.