No one expects to relocate to London or New York for an easy life. But the combination of President Obama’s plan to crack down on prop trading and the prospect of a UK “super-tax” on bonuses (and simply the lure of a better quality of life) is leading a growing number of Wall Street- and Square Mile-based Nordic bankers to think it might be time to come home.
“We are definitely seeing an increase in the numbers of people wanting to come home, particularly from London but also, though not as much, from the US. In particular we’re seeing people within corporate finance, fixed income and equity sales who want to come back,” says Johan Wingren, Michael Page’s banking and financial services manager in Stockholm.
There is also some evidence of this trend in Finland, suggests Harri Valkonen, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Finland, though as yet it is less pronounced.
“We were expecting many of the Finnish investment bankers based in London to return back home, but we have not seen any evidence of this happening yet. Some junior investment bankers are, but we have seen only a few cases to date,” he says.
For many London-based bankers the tax issue could well be the tipping point, argues Wingren.
“It’s not so much that Sweden’s tax regime is more favourable – Sweden is one of the world’s top three for tax burden – it is that if London is no longer going to be as cheap or as favourable in terms of tax, then it will become less attractive,” he says.
But anyone seriously thinking about coming back needs to accept they’re unlikely to be able to do it for the money.
“The money is more equal than it was but it still probably can’t match what you might be able to get in London,” suggests Wingren.