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Panicked London bankers rush for new 'safe' job

There’s a new favourite job in the City of London and it has nothing to do with artificial intelligence, with achieving more pay, or with getting an inroad at somewhere like JPMorgan. It is about one thing, and one thing only: remaining in London. All else be damned.

 “I’m getting tens of people calling me every day,” said one London financial services headhunter, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of attracting even more. “And they are all asking for the same thing – for a job with Irish or UK clients, even though most of them have never covered these markets before.”

The allure of UK client-facing jobs is simple: when passporting arrangements end under Brexit, it will become necessary to serve EU clients out of the EU. Jobs that were previously based in London will therefore be dispersed across Europe - to Paris, Milan, or (worse case, seemingly), Frankfurt.

Not everyone wants to go. – Last week’s resignations of Bank of America rates professionals may have been motivated by the bank’s decision to shift people to Paris, for example. Paris is widely considered one of the preferable EU destinations and has the best transport links to London, but migrating remains a chore.

Reinventing oneself as a person who will never be commanded to move to Frankfurt at short notice is not easy, though. Nor it is helped by the unreasonable expectations of those trying to achieve the metamorphosis. "People who haven't been on the market in years are suddenly saying, 'I want to work with a U.K. or U.S. bank, with a guarantee to stay in London, with UK and Irish clients, and with the same level of compensation," says the headhunter. "We're having to act as a kind of reality check." 

Nor does it help that in the run-up to March 29th, banks are doing very little hiring. The considerable cost of preparing for Brexit (Bank of America alone has spent $400m) is stifling seasonal recruitment in the front office, and the prospect of ongoing Brexit-induced costs means conditions are unlikely to change soon. - JPMorgan faces a bill for putting-up 200 people in Paris hotels while it gets its French office ready. Bank of America, UBS, Nomura, BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered are all said to be compensating employees for commuting between London and EU offices, while Citi is reportedly allowing staff to work on short secondments at its office in Frankfurt. 

"Some people are being told to work in the EU between Monday and Thursday," says another headhunter. "That's two flights a week. Then they get a hotel or rented apartment while they're there and sometimes a driver too if they're senior. It's hugely expensive is something banks are having to provide costings for upfront. This is why there's so little recruitment going on in London."

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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