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Brexit or not, a junior banker in London explains why he’s going back to Milan

Brexit bankers leaving London

Take the fast train to Milan

We caught up with ‘Antonio’, a young Italian banker who’s spent the past few years in London and who recently left the City for Milan.

Antonio isn’t his real name – he only agreed to speak to us off the record. But Antonio’s experience suggests London isn’t necessarily the best bet if you’re a junior trader or salesperson trying to build a career.

So, you’re leaving London….?

“Yes, you could say it’s not London – it’s me. I was working for a major bank in London and now I’m going to work for a brokerage house in Milan. This means that the pay structure is different – brokerage firms are less constrained by regulation than banks, so there’s more upside on the pay.”

You’re going to Milan for the pay?

“It’s not just that. My area of the equities market is also far more advanced in Milan than it is in London. People think that London’s the best place to be, but this isn’t always the case. In Milan, my business area keeps on increasing and there’s a lot of new business. In my new role, I’m also going to head the business for Italian clients. I’ll have a lot more autonomy and will get to start from scratch. It’s going to be much less hierarchical – which you just don’t get in a big bank in London. In this sense, smaller financial centres like Milan can be better for your career.”

So, the fact that you’re heading back to Milan has nothing to do with possibility of a ‘Brexit’ or with the fact that Milan is possibly a nicer and cheaper place to live than London…?

“Well, you’re right that there are some cultural advantages. Life in Milan is healthier, for sure. It’s also less expensive. In London I was spending most of my salary on the crazy rent. In Milan, rents are 30% cheaper. As I said, I’ll also get paid more in Milan – London’s so competitive that pay can be forced down. In a growing sector like mine, the pay in Milan is higher.”

Were there any advantages to being in London? 

“Sure. London is more fun than Milan. Also, if you spend some time working in London and come back to Milan, everyone takes you extremely seriously. That’s a big advantage when you come home… Staying in London may make sense for some people, but if you’re an Italian in my market, working in sales role with Italian clients, it makes far more sense to be in Milan. – Italian clients are very reputation and relationship driven. In London, it’s more about competing on the basis of price.”


Photo credit: Le Frecce – Explore by Mariano Mantel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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