Frankfurt: where pay is high and redundancies are almost unheard of

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Continental European financial centres often get a bad press. Last week, our French site ran an article claiming that 45% of French finance masters graduates start their careers in London rather than Paris. Plenty more young French bankers gravitate to Hong Kong. Frankfurt, meanwhile, has a reputation as a provincial backwater where investment banking jobs are few and the pay is atrocious.

In the case of Frankfurt banker-compensation at least, this looks very wrong.

Last week's case involving reinstated rates traders at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt underscored the presence of high-earning traders in the German financial centre. Ardalan Gharagozlou, head of FX trading at Deutsche in Frankfurt, received a bonus of €2.7m in 2011, and earns a salary of around €265k. Jörg Vogt, a senior trader, earns a similar salary, but received a bonus of €780k in 2011. Kai-Uwe, a VP in FX trading, earns a salary of around €130k, and received a bonus, in Frankfurt, of €180k two years ago. None of this seems unduly different to London, where the cost of living is around 35% higher. 

Frankfurt has more than just high pay in its favour. New figures released from Helaba Research reveal that employment in the German financial centre has proven robust in the face of the financial crisis. Between the peak of 2008 and the first quarter of 2013, Helaba estimates that banking jobs in Frankfurt fell by just 2,500. In London, the CEBR estimates that 69,000 jobs disappeared over the same period.

The bad news? Helaba thinks another 1,000 jobs will disappear in Frankfurt between now and 2015. Equally, Helaba's research underscores the relative lack of banking jobs in Frankfurt: it says there are just 62,250 bankers working in the German city. In the City of London, by comparison, TheCityUK estimates that there are 22,100 fund management jobs and 144,300 jobs in banking, as well as 191,400 jobs in accounting and consulting.

If you're a Continental European financier, it's clearly hard to ignore London. But if you can get one of the elusive finance jobs on offer in Frankfurt, you could end up both with more money in your pocket and greater chance of keeping your position come the next downturn.

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