If the pundits are to be believed, Paris is suddenly ahead of Frankfurt when it comes to finance job transfers out of London because of Brexit. Sia Partners, a management consulting firm which is tracking Brexit-related job transfers, says over 2,800 finance jobs are being transferred to Paris compared with 1,940 which are going to Frankfurt, 903 which are going to Dublin, and just 350 which are going to Amsterdam. Paris is popular.
However, French bankers say Brexit is far from their only reason for leaving London. While young French graduates continue to be attracted to the City and see it as an ideal place to start their careers, more senior bankers are leaving London well before Brexit happens. Their reasons are, "professional, pecuniary, family-related and down to quality of life," says one former J.P. Morgan banker who now runs a Paris fintech firm.
One returnee cites the falling pound as a reason for his return. "It was a purely financial calculation linked to the cost of living in London and the change in the value of the euro and the pound," he says. When combined with a new flat 30% tax rate on capital gains, and what Denis Marcadet, president of headhunting firm Vendomes Associes describes as Brexit-related pay inflation, Paris is a lot more attractive than it used to be.
Paris is also seen as a kinder, gentler sort of place than London. One young French banker who quit the City says the British capital is a place of extremes: "It's full of talented people who make huge sacrifices in their personal lives in order to progress." While this might be acceptable when you're young and child-free, things change with children. The cost of schools in London doesn't help. "French bankers in London fear that school fees for their children are going to explode," says the head of one Parisian headhunting firm. "This is why you most often get people moving back when they're senior associates," says a banker in Paris.
Of course, Brexit isn't to be dismissed altogether. The French community is already awash with tales - possibly apocryphal - of people in London being given 24 hours to decide whether to move 'home' or not. Those who do are reportedly hedging their bets by schooling their children in international schools where they can continue to learn English in case of a return to London in future. One thing is certain though: French bankers in London have no intention of moving to Frankfurt. If French bankers move anywhere, it will be Paris, says the ex-J.P. Morgan banker. Frankfurt is seen as second rate both in terms of culture and infrastructure, he adds.
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