Is it happening? Are jobs that would once have been located in London actually being moved to Europe because Brexit is going on? In the case of Goldman Sachs, maybe yes.
Goldman is currently advertising for a front office structuring and sales "strat" (ie. Goldman-style quant) based in EMEA. The new role is not in London, but Warsaw.
What does a "sales strat" do exactly at GS? In its job description, Goldman emphasizes that the role will be front office and says it will entail, "developing and maintaining generic as well as bespoke financial analysis and marketing materials pertaining to structured transactions involving Equity & Multi-Asset Derivatives and/or Systematic Trading Strategies." In plainer English, one GS equities sales strat says his job's all about structuring deals, analyzing trades, writing pitches for clients and generally, "being client facing."
This being the case, the fact that Goldman's advertising for a sales strat in Warsaw is notable. When Goldman revealed it would be staffing-up its Warsaw operation in 2015, it said it was focusing on hiring-in technology and operations staff. It's since supplemented this with Warsaw-based HR and risk professionals, but for Goldman Warsaw has historically been all about the middle office. The addition of a front office sales strat therefore suggests this could be changing. - A year ago, that sort of job would almost certainly have been in London.
It's tempting to blame Brexit. After all, Richard Gnodde has indicated that Goldman could start moving hundreds of client facing jobs out of London well before Britain's due to leave the European Union in 2019.
In reality, however, Brexit is likely to only one factor encouraging Goldman to locate front office jobs in Poland. The longer the firm's in the Polish city, the more confident it's likely to become about the calibre of staff available there, and the easier it's likely to find hiring good people.
Deutsche's Birmingham office shows how these things evolve: Birmingham too started out as a back office centre for DB, but grew to encompass low touch equities sales and trading once the German bank found its feet in the city. Expect something similar for Goldman in Warsaw. Why have highly paid front office staff in London, when you could pay people a lot less to do the same thing 900 miles east?
While other U.S. banks have also indicated their intentions of moving staff out of London ahead of Brexit, there's little sign of new EU jobs being created yet. The only exception is at J.P. Morgan, which has begun advertising for a Frankfurt-based vice president in its regulatory reporting group to prepare for the "legal entity strategy" of its corporate and investment bank following Brexit.
Photo credit: The palace of culture - Warsaw, Poland - Travel photography by Giuseppe Milo is licensed under CC BY 2.0.