Frankfurt headhunters report rising interest from British bankers

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As Brexit approaches and British bankers contemplate a new reality in which client-facing people in the U.K. will have minimal access to clients in Europe, headhunters in Frankfurt say calls and applications from London are becoming more frequent.

"Word has spread that you can make a career in Frankfurt faster than in London," says  Behi Farid of Robert Walters in Frankfurt. "The teams are smaller and the competition less intense. For some time now, we have been receiving more and more applications from the British, which of course is related to Brexit."

It's not just Farid. "Only yesterday I received a call from a Brit who wants to change to Frankfurt," headhunter Jan Graffelder of Look & Graffelder in Frankfurt, although he questioned whether this was Brexit-related or due to, "private matters."

For the moment, most of the jobs publicly advertised in both Frankfurt and Paris are still for the middle office.

Bank of America's decision to move Sanaz Zaimi, Vanessa Holtz and Othmane Kabbaj to Paris in July created fears that a rush of sales and trading jobs would soon follow, but despite persistent rumours that 20% of BofA sales staff will move from London before the end of this year, the only jobs actually advertised at BofA's Paris office so far are in compliance and risk. Barclays alone has begun advertising trading vacancies in Frankfurt, with around 12 jobs for equity derivatives traders, FX traders, credit traders and rates traders.

This week's clarification that the European Banking Authority won't completely ban so called-back-to-back trading after Brexit, means fewer trading jobs are likely to move than previously thought: trades that are made in Frankfurt or Paris can simply be transferred to London through an internal trade, and the risk offset in the City.

Even so, one senior German banker who previously worked in London, says City bankers have reason to be increasingly interested in Germany: "Everyone's job in Frankfurt has just become a lot safer." This is despite imminent changes to Frankfurt labour laws, which will make it easier to fire people earning in excess of €234k a year.  "No bank wants to risk losing existing Frankfurt staff now," he adds.

The same banker says British financiers are eager to buy Frankfurt property to help hedge against falling property prices in London. "I know a London banker who just bought a 200 square metre flat 10 minutes walk from the centre of Frankfurt, with a roof garden, for €1.6m," he says. "Frankfurt real estate is super-safe and super-cheap. It's the perfect hedge against the huge downside risk to London and to sterling."

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