French bankers in London urged to stand up for themselves and defend finance. French bankers in France warned there are no jobs in London

eFC logo
Francois Hollande, clapping

Francois Hollande may not have won the definitive first round victory he would have liked, but he has forced Sarkozy into second place in the first round – the first time this has ever happened to a sitting president according to Reuters.

In the circumstances, and given Hollande’s professed dislike of bankers and intention of imposing a tax of 75% on all income above €1m, French bankers have reason to feel a little worried.

One London-based French lawyer, says the French banking fraternity in London needs to fight back.

“French bankers need to stand up for themselves a bit more,” says Jerome Lussan, founder of hedge fund consultancy  Laven Partners. "It's very easy for politicians like Hollande to FOCUS ON a very small percentage of the population and to call a faceless financial services world the enemy, but they need to show that they are people and are different to the way they are being portrayed. They are good people creating jobs and wealth for the very large majority. Alienating the financial sector doesn't help anyone, least of all the French economy."

For the first time this year, French citizens living overseas will be able to hold seats in the French National Assembly. Lussan is running as an independent candidate for Northern Europe. He’s not the only financial services professional to do so. In the US, hedge fund manager Julien Balkany is doing the same.

French expats’ ability to elect their own politicians may prove a double-edged sword, however. Democratic representation is likely to lead to taxation. Earlier in the presidential campaign, Sarkozy suggested levying a tax on French nationals’ income no matter where in the world they live.

Lussan predicts that this will be implemented whoever gets elected. “My feeling is that there will be more taxation and there will be taxation of French expats. We have clients who are thinking of changing their nationality to Canadian or Kiwi as a result,” he says.

One French headhunter working in London told us he hasn’t seen an appreciable increase in French financiers seeking to relocate here following the threat of higher taxes at home (possibly for the precise reason that these taxes may be global).  However, he does complain of being “spammed” by French politicians trying to solicit his vote.

“I was bombarded by French candidates by email all last week,” he says. An email he received from Marine Le Pen reads:

“Chers compatriotes, je sais que dans votre vie quotidienne, vous n'êtes pas toujours directement concernés par les enjeux de cette élection présidentielle : immigration, insécurité, chômage, pauvreté, dette.”

French bankers who do decide to get out of France and change their nationality may wish to avoid London. “There are no jobs here,” warns the headhunter.

Lussan says France should be trying to tempt its London bankers back home: "We need to bring these talented people back, people who have been educated in the best schools in France, and top stop hitting them on the head all the time," he suggests.