Investment banks in the City are currently trying to sell Brexit as an opportunity to return home, but as a French FX and commodities trader currently based in London who spent a significant period of time in La Défense, my advice to you is to think very carefully before putting your hand up.
If your personal circumstances – kids, school fees, mortgages, an itch to see your family more – are pushing you back home, then great. But during all the years I spent in Paris, I never met anyone who had worked successfully in an investment bank in the City of London, who was happy to be back. Never. If you’ve succeeded in London, Paris is a nothing. The only people who enjoy going home are the ones who’ve failed in the City.
Brexit might have changed the game, but London is in a different league to Paris and it’s hardly going to disappear overnight. Paris has been, in my experience, a warm comfort blanket to wrap around yourself at the tail end of your career. Most who returned from London were in semi-retirement and looking for an easier life.
London is still the world’s leading financial centre. This means that the opportunities on offer to trader, investment banker or anyone else with aspirations to work in the financial sector are huge. Inevitably, not only are the actual jobs superior to those on offer in Paris, but the exit options and career opportunities far outstrip those on the Continent. It’s a great melting pot of skills, nationalities and cultures that leads to extraordinary possibilities. This also means that it’s incredibly competitive and hard, and not everyone can handle working here.
I would be surprised if there were a sudden influx of French bankers keen to move back to Paris. To do so still signifies a lack of ambition. Paris might be talking a good game, but right not it really cannot compete with London – Brexit or not.
Pierre Dubois, a pseudonym, is a executive director working in a large U.S. investment bank in London
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