It’s OK, relax, we’ve got this. After unrelenting coverage that one of Dublin, Paris or Frankfurt will displace London as Europe’s leading financial centre sinceEU referendum, the City’s investment banks have come out say they will work with chancellor George Osbourne to maintain the UK financial sector.
Citigroup, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have all signed up to a statement saying they “agreed that we would work together…with a common aim to help London retain its position as the leading international financial center.”
Is this a backtrack from pre-Brexit vote threats, or a guarantee that investment banks definitely won’t move jobs to another financial centre? Not really. The problem, more than anything, is all the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote, something that is unlikely to be resolved until September at the earliest after the Conservative Party leadership election.
Maintaining access to EU markets from the UK is obviously key for banks. As one banker at the meeting told Reuters: “no one in their right mind would currently invest in Britain.”
What’s more, Jamie Dimon reiterated to Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that “some thousands” of UK-based jobs would head to the eurozone if “new conditions” are imposed by the EU. This was, however, a “worst case scenario”, he said.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have also been forced to deny that they’re already planning to move jobs elsewhere. Investment banks, it’s assumed, won’t wait for the glacial movements in Westminster before deciding where to base their staff.
So, why the statement? It could have something to do with the fact that London has ALL the qualities of a top financial centre, whereas other EU states are still lacking. These, according to Z/Yen (which creates a well-respected financial centre index) are “English-language facility, favourable regulatory environment, efficient transport infrastructure, office availability and a welcoming attitude to foreign workforce.”
Dublin, maybe, comes close, but Ireland isn’t yet ready for an influx of tens of thousands of banking jobs.
Separately, trader-turned-author, Sam Polk – writing in the New York Times – says that the ongoing proliferation of “bro-talk” on Wall Street locks women out of the senior ranks. Senior bankers regularly collude around obscene talk that openly objectifies women, he says. This, of course, isn’t overt, but often more often occurs when women aren’t present. Men bond in a culture where women are ‘casually torn apart in conversation”.
“How can you ever stomach promoting them, or working for them?” he says.
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