If you work in Deutsche Bank’s current London office, you might have encountered the artisanal coffee stand in the foyer. Maybe this is all you need to make your day complete, but if you were to switch to Deutsche’s office in Berlin, you could find yourself in a whole different league.
The German bank’s Berlin office houses an expansionary risk management hub, which is hiring. It also houses a quant institute, which predictably likes to hire quantitative PhDs, compliance staff and various business continuity teams. A few years ago the office hosted a large art exhibition space. This has unfortunately now disappeared, but still – while Deutsche’s London office stands in the comparative cultural desert of London Wall, its Berlin Risk Institute office is located near a giant zoological park, several theatres and a shopping mall called “Bikini.”
This matters, because some of Deutsche’s 8,500 UK staff, 7,000 of whom are in London, could soon find themselves hanging out in Berlin instead. So said Bloomberg this morning, reporting that DB is planning to move 4,000 positions to Frankfurt and Berlin under its base case Brexit scenario (which John Cryan has already said is a hard one). This is despite Deutsche’s coming 5,000 person London office (which observers suggest is simply an attempt at consolidating its existing locations in the city).
Ex-London bankers we know who’ve moved to Berlin couldn’t be happier. If London is large and smelly and Frankfurt is neat and tidy, Berlin is supposed to be messy and bohemian. It is also cheap – or at least it was a few years ago. “I bought a very cheap apartment, cheaper than a German car in the equivalent of Notting Hill,” one former London banker who moved to Berlin six years ago boasts. “It doesn’t feel like a financial city here,” he adds. “That’s part of its appeal, there’s a lot of creativity and things going on. Not a bunch of bankers, lawyers and consultants and their intermediaries.”
This could clearly change a bit if Deutsche Bank exports thousands of bankers from London to the German capital. Even so, the banker on the ground in Berlin says it won’t be that devastating: “Deutsche Bank’s office is in West Berlin, which is not really very cool. Everyone wants to be in East Berlin, which is more like Shoreditch,” he reflects.