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Actually, most London bankers would prefer to work in....Amsterdam

UK-based investment bankers don’t want to work in Frankfurt. If finance professionals are forced to move out of London in the wake of Brexit, there’s one clear favourite choice – Amsterdam.

Investment banks’ contingency plans for moving jobs out of London in the event of Brexit are said to be ‘half-hearted’ at best. Now that it’s a reality, some tough decisions have to be made about whether to reduce their presence in the City and move functions to other EU countries, particularly if ‘passporting’ rules make it impossible to trade with the continent.

Frankfurt is the leading contender for the bulk of these jobs, but if banks pay any attention to the wishes of their employees they may wish to reconsider. In an eFinancialCareers poll of nearly 5,200 finance professionals in the UK, just 17% said their preferred choice was Frankfurt. Amsterdam – with 34% of the vote – was the favoured option, followed by Paris (31%) and Dublin (18%).

If banks do decide to move jobs out of London, don’t expect any special treatment. Credit Suisse’s decision to move trading jobs to Dublin earlier this year suggests existing employees will be asked to move, but banks in the UK are under no legal obligation to offer a new role, says Philip Landau, founder of employment lawyers Landau Law, which works with financial services professionals.

“If banks are moving jobs to another location, they can simply make role in the UK redundant,” he says.

HSBC has already said that it could shift up to 1,000 trading jobs from London to Paris after Brexit, while Morgan Stanley is reportedly weighing up shifting roles to Dublin or Frankfurt. J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs have both said that they’d need to readjust their London ‘footprint’ if passporting rules prove impossible.

Madrid is an outside contender for these roles, according to the senior bankers we spoke to.

Relatively speaking, the UK’s employment protection legislation favours the employer. Any of these touted EU countries have more stringent employment laws than Britain.

In the Netherlands, for example, an employer needs to get the all clear from both the court and the labour authorities before rolling out redundancies. Failure to do so could result in the employee being reinstated, according to Desiree Kemperlink, an associate in employment and benefits at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Amsterdam. Any redundancy pay also has to take into consideration average bonus payments.

In France, employers need to work with ‘works councils’, the local labour authorities and employees before announcing lay offs, according to David Jonin from lawyers Gide Loyrette Nouel.

Employment law in Germany, meanwhile, is particularly complex, but favours employees more than any other country except Italy, according to OECD analysis. At the very least, statutory redundancy pay is one month’s salary per year of service – double that of the UK.

Photo: Getty Images

AUTHORPaul Clarke

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