Bank of America is going for it. The U.S. bank will reportedly be moving around 400 staff, of whom 200 are expected to be in the front office, to Paris starting next week. As we reported earlier this month, employees there were given until 11 January to sign their new contracts (or not). Thereafter, the move was kind of inevitable.
Whether they're working for Bank of America or somewhere else, not everyone in the City of London is overjoyed at the prospect of being transplanted to Continental Europe. London employment lawyers say a continuous stream of disaffected finance professionals is asking for advice on avoiding the move. Unfortunately little can be done - except, maybe, to embrace it.
Results to our recent survey on life satisfaction in the finance industry suggest that embracing a move out of London and into Paris, Frankfurt or Madrid is exactly what people in London should do. Based on the testimony of 1,650 respondents globally, finance professionals working in Continental Europe are among the happiest in the world when they look at their lives in the round. Europe's finance professionals also said they were 20% more content with their lives at work, specifically, and 6% happier with their lives at home.
What makes life in European finance so pleasing? Predictably, it's the hours. Survey respondents in European financial centres extolled the virtues of their great work-life balance and generalised sense of fulfilment. "The work life balance is great in continental Europe compared to Anglo-Saxon countries," said one credit salesman in his late 30s, who put his personal fulfillment at eight out of ten. "It allows me enough spare time for holidays and to pursue hobbies." A fixed income researcher in his late 20s said life Europe means he has enough time to workout regularly and to go for after-work drinks. A male ECM banker in his late 40s credited his happiness to a good family life and the time to spend seven hours a week working out.
Tellingly, while 47% of respondents in Europe said they had time to pursue lives outside of work, just 35% of our respondents in London did. One London private equity professional in his late 20s said he had no time for friends and family, nor any time for himself. A London equity researcher of a similar age complained that he was too tired to go out for the dinner, to the gym, or to see friends mid-week. "Work is life," said one London risk professional, who said he would at least appreciate being able to eat at normal times. London-based respondents were far more likely to complain of exhaustion and a lack of a social life than their counterparts on the Continent.
Of course, working in Paris or Frankfurt also has its downsides. Some respondents complained of poor dealflow in Continental Europe, making it difficult to progress in M&A and IBD jobs. Others complained of bureaucracy, and one Polish-based man in his late 20s said his opportunity for progression was hindered by being offshore whilst earning a low salary and being micromanaged from London...
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