Brexit relocations falter over bad language

Banks' plans to relocate financial staff from London to new European hubs because of Brexit are not going smoothly, according to a report in

The website is reporting that, as January 1 approaches, banks are discovering a new problem - that overseas staff only too keen to work in London, are now not happy about being relocated to other European financial centres."It's a problem that JPMorgan seems to have encountered as it moves sales staff to Paris," reported efinancialcareers."While French JPMorgan bankers in London are said to be mostly happy to return to home, insiders say there's far less enthusiasm for the French capital among Germans, Italians, Dutch and Spanish, who would rather return to their own countries if they're not in London."Mastering a third foreign language is believed to be a primary disincentive to EU27-born staff to shift from London with Andreas Halin, managing partner of Frankfurt-based Global Mind Executive Search Consultants, revealing that French bankers are reluctant to move to Germany.“It’s very difficult to get French people to move to Frankfurt or Germans to move to Paris," said Mr Halin. "It’s a language issue but it’s also about culture."Given the choice, Germans would often rather work for a German or American bank. Because they don’t speak French, they fear they won’t be promoted to the top levels at a French firm.”The website said that the "tetchiness" among staff about being based in non-English speaking European countries that are not their countries of birth also represented an issue for banks as they rought to establish post-Brexit European hubs that met the requirements of the European Central Bank (ECB)."In February this year, the ECB said banks need to ensure that 'sufficient staff' are located in EU supervised entities 'to run operations, including in both risk management and the front office'," said efinancialcareers."In some cases, banks have established multiple offices across Europe to allow European staff to work from their home countries. Barclays, for example, now has markets offices in Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands."By Mr Halin said that the use of this kind of dispersal model is often down to line managers rather than to divisional bosses. "Some of the senior guys want to have their people close to them. Others are happy for them to be close to clients," he said.All this has produced fierce competition for staff. Kristine Braden, head of Citi's broker dealer business in Frankfurt, said recently that the bank was fervently looking for staff in Germany.“We suddenly need trading capacity, compliance people, finance people, M&A bankers - it’s amazing how much competition there is right now in the talent pool,” she said.According to Mr Halin, the situation has meant that banks in Frankfurt are trying both to transfer senior people from London and to hire junior staff locally.However, he said that even this was complicated because senior bankers in London are frantically looking at alternatives to enable themselves and their families to stay put. "Banks will ask a senior guy to move to Frankfurt and he’ll say yes, but will simultaneously start looking for another job. If he finds one, he often won’t move.” 

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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