Is Brexit really cutting competition for banking jobs in London? Um...

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Brexit competition for banking jobs London

With exactly one year to go until the button is pressed and Britain disassociates itself from the EU, seemingly minus a "special deal for banks", there are small signs of movement. UBS is transferring up to 200 of its 5,000 staff to the EU. Goldman Sachs has moved a "dealmaker" to Madrid and told "a dozen" London-based derivatives and debt capital markets bankers that they're off to Frankfurt by the end of June. Credit Suisse is moving 250 jobs to Frankfurt and Madrid as "phase one" of its Brexit planning.

On the ground, however, London's finance recruiters and insiders still insist nothing's changed. Banks are still hiring. Most importantly, people are queuing up to fill the jobs on offer. If London-based bankers looking for new jobs were hoping for a fillip as Brexit drains the City of EU finance talent, it's not happening yet.

“This bonus season is an inflection point at which you’d expect some people who were going to leave because of Brexit to do so," says Stephen Burke, group corporate development director at Cordium, a financial services compliance and technology consultancy. "But we're not seeing it," he adds, "In my world of regulation, there’s plenty of work to do and candidates are in no greater shortage than usual."

James Findlay, principal consultant in risk and compliance at recruitment firm Selby Jennings, says there are candidate shortages, but not because of Brexit. London is still suffering the after-effects of the 2008 financial crisis, says Findlay: "There are always shortages at VP level, because these are the people who were starting their careers 10 years ago, and there are just fewer of them around." Conversely, Findlay said the Brexit, "exodus," has yet to happen.

At least one recruitment firm thinks Brexit is driving away banking job candidates and making life easier for those who remain though. Morgan McKinley claimed this week that new London finance job seekers were down 35% year-on-year in February 2018. "More and more EU nationals are returning to their home nations, therefore, reducing the overall numbers of people searching in the London markets," said managing director Hakan Enver.

Morgan McKinley calculated there were 1.5 new candidates for each new finance job in London in February 2017. By February 2018, it says this was down to 1.2. The implication is that it's already become 20% easier to walk into a London banking position.

Morgan McKinley predominantly deals with middle and back office finance jobs, however.  When it comes to front office revenue-generating positions, London's front office banking recruiters say Brexit's had no discernible effect (yet) on the supply of talent. "I’m talking to people right now who are either looking to change jobs or have been on notice that their position might go," says one headhunter who recruits credit traders, speaking off the record. "They include a Spaniard and an Australian and they both want to find a job in London," he says. "– They have the right to work here and they would prefer to stay where they are."

"Some people want to go to Frankfurt and Paris, but no more so than in any other year," says an equities recruiter. "The worst I've heard is someone saying London's a bit dead at the moment and they'd be up for a move to New York."

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