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The reported demise of banking jobs in London and New York City looks premature

If you believe everything you read and you read everything, you might be under the impression that London and New York City are no longer the places to pick up finance jobs. You would be wrong.

A few months ago, the New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs’ new building in Manhattan has an entire empty floor. Instead of hiring the 19,000 people it had envisaged for the building a decade ago, Goldman has hired 2,000 people. The rest, seemingly, are sitting in Mumbai or Salt Lake City.

To those of a judgmental disposition, Goldman’s London office looks in equal danger of being hollowed out. Reuters reported last month that the bank wants to hire “several hundred” people in Warsaw for a new technology and operations unit. The implication seemed to be that future European technology hires wouldn’t sit on London’s Strand.

Except, take a look at the current geographical distribution of jobs at Goldman Sachs. Compared to the ‘up and coming locations,’ London and New York job opportunities look pretty healthy after all.

That distribution applies to all jobs at Goldman Sachs. In theory, it’s the support and technology roles that are being shunted out of the major financial centres. However, the current distribution of UK technology jobs at J.P. Morgan also disproves the notion that technology jobs are being moved away from the City. Bournemouth and Scotland combined might be more important than London for JPM’s new tech roles, but London is still the preeminent single place for the bank’s technology hiring.

What then, of operations jobs? Surely these are being shunted away from high cost central locations? In theory, yes. In reality, maybe not. At both Deutsche Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, London remains the single most important location for operations jobs at both banks – despite Deutsche’s near-shored operation in Birmingham and BAML’s big hub in Chester.

What does this say about your job in finance? Simply that it’s not necessary to give up on the big financial centres after all. Yes, banks are off-shoring and near-shoring as much as they can. But in a complicated world, it’s still necessary to have people working in close physical proximity. And that applies equally to technology and operations roles as to the front office.

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