This content is from: Portfolio

Recruiters Still Waiting for Brexit Job Rush to Frankfurt

Frankfurt, expected to see jobs transferred from London, isn’t benefiting just yet, recruiters say.

  • Joe McGrath

London might well lose jobs in finance to Germany now that Brexit is underway. But so far, recruiters for major banks and asset management firms see no evidence of roles being transferred to Frankfurt.

Employees of global recruitment firms Robert Walters, Selby Jennings and Huxley say there are no new requests this year from banks or asset management firms to transfer London jobs to Germany’s financial hub due to Brexit, even as they anticipate enquiries will rise. Paris, meanwhile, has seen gains as a result of the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union, with HSBC Holdings confirming to Institutional Investor that it moved 1,000 roles to the French city from London.

Douglas Flint, chairman of HSBC, told delegates Wednesday at a pro-Brexit conference in London that U.K. government officials should negotiate “a good deal” on E.U. trading terms as soon as possible to keep banks from shipping jobs away from Britain’s financial capital. Frankfurt’s gain in financial services jobs is so far a result of newly created positions, as opposed to an exodus from London, according to recruiters.

“We have had consulting firms approach us for advisory pieces on the Frankfurt market, but the big banking names are not saying, ‘right, we are going to leave London’” for Germany’s financial center, said Nick Dunnett, a Frankfurt-based recruiter at Robert Walters.

Dunnett, who focuses on Germany and Switzerland, said that while there has been an increase in total job roles in Frankfurt, none are from London as a direct result of Brexit.

Huxley — where staff have been holding regular conference calls between London, Frankfurt, Paris, Luxembourg and Zurich since the U.K. voted in June to leave the European Union — isn't seeing jobs leave the U.K.’s financial center in favor of Frankfurt, either. Huxley is speaking to the “big players” and they’re all postponing any decision to leave London, according to Isabelle Lefebvre, a Frankfurt-based recruiter with the firm.

“HSBC and Barclays are two of the main accounts we have,” Lefebvre said. “I spoke to Barclays before Easter and there is nothing previewed as yet. The same goes for HSBC.”

Some have speculated that UBS Group could transfer jobs to Frankfurt from London, but no decision has been made, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the Swiss bank has made no official determination.

While recruiters working in the German market acknowledge there has been an increase in fintech, regulatory and insurance roles in Frankfurt, they say these jobs have not been reallocated from London. James Findlay, relationship director at Selby Jennings, said he isn’t surprised at the lack of early moves to Frankfurt from the U.K.

“Looking at Frankfurt as a city, does it have the infrastructure? Possibly not,” Findlay said. “It has a good airport system, but there is not a lot there. It is just a Canary Wharf with some bits either side.”

London may lose prominence to European cities ready to grab its financial talent after Britain officially began March 29 to exit the E.U., according to research by Willis Towers Watson. The consulting firm said in a report this month that the U.K. would likely lose a “significant” portion of its 2.2 million financial services jobs as companies seek to meet new regulations and employees re-assess their own location preferences, possibly leaning toward Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam or Dublin.

Frankfurt Main Finance, a lobbying group for Frankfurt’s financial district, did not respond to a request for comment about jobs being transferred to the city from London as result of Brexit. Meanwhile, 30 asset management firms have applied for registrations in Paris to relocate jobs from the U.K., according to the French Financial Management Association.