I am a continental European by birth, but I’m currently working for a major investment fund in the UAE. Until a couple of years ago, I was with in an investment bank in London, but I got the chance to move into private equity when the market was in a bad shape and moved here.
It was a good choice, but now I’m looking to move on again. I feel like I’ve got two options: London, or Hong Kong.
London is like my second home. I’ve got friends there and family there. I did my MBA in London. I’ve lived there and worked there, and it was the perfect place to develop my skills and make some money. It’s always been one of the few places in Europe where you have a real chance to be successful, despite your nationality and background.
In a way, I’d like to go back to London. The roles there are challenging. It’s very developed in terms of private equity – the transactions and deals are top notch and the legal framework is well developed. By comparison, the UAE is like an emerging economy – the legal framework is less strong; the deals are less challenging. I want to be back in a leading financial centre.
Equally, however, the UK tax regime is a big challenge for people like me. If I go back to London, I’ll probably get a promotion. That will mean more money and more responsibility, but when I do the maths I’ll end up with less than I’m earning now. That’s annoying.
By comparison, Hong Kong is like the UK in terms of mentality. It was a British colony for years, the legal framework is pretty similar, and the tax rate is 15 per cent. I also have a lot of friends there and I’ll get the chance to work in emerging markets like Indonesia.
Then there’s the attitude towards financial services. I go to Hong Kong every month and I’ve never seen anything adverse written about banking. It’s a commercial place: people are there to make money and work hard; no one really cares about anything else.
In the UK and the US, by comparison, politicians are stoking popular resentment against bankers because they want to blame someone for what happened.
Much as I like the UK, it’s clear to me where I should be going next.