So much for Brexit. While the date for the break remains fixed for March 2019, give or take a transition period, and while organisations like Paris Europlace continue to campaign for the French capital’s claim to become Europe’s financial centre, French bankers themselves are still keen on London.
Or at least, they’re still keen on London until they start a family. Then, everything changes.
So says one Parisian headhunter, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s when French bankers start families that they start to think about coming home,” he says. “They start to fear that the cost of educating their children is going to explode.”
A French analyst in London agrees, adding that some of his more experienced associate-level colleagues are already returning to Paris for this reason.
The Lycee Francais, London’s French language school costs £7k to £11k in fees and is heavily over-subscribed. It doesn’t help that the pound has depreciated 20% against the euro since 2015, making money earned in London worth less back home. Mid-ranking bankers who might previously have hung on in London for a few more bonus rounds now have less to look forward to.
If French bankers in their late 20s and early 30s are eyeing their homeland with renewed appreciation, however, French bankers at the start of their careers are still enthralled by the City of London.
Olivier Bossard, director of the Masters in Finance at HEC and Philippe Thomas, professor of finance at ESCP Europe – two of France’s most prominent finance academics, say London is still the prize for their students. “London will remain Europe’s central finance hub for many more years,” says Bossard.
In fact, French students have no choice but to come to the City if they want to build banking careers. Michael Ohana, founder of “Alum Eye”, an organisation which helps prepare students for corporate finance interviews, notes that most large banks still locate most of their summer interns in the City of London – and that summer internships are what lead to full time jobs.
This situation will probably change as teams shift out of London and hire interns in mainland Europe, says Ohana. However, there’s little real sign of this happening yet. For the moment, therefore, it’s still London or bust – and back when your children are old enough to go to school.
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