Earlier, we noted how French officials are planning to sabotage talks between the UK and the EU about expanding access to EU financial markets. At this point, even if Britain does manage to make progress with the EU in a meeting later this month, at this point, the transfer of top talent from the City to the Continent looks irreversible.
According to Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Goldman Sachs are among the bulge bracket banks that are accelerating the pace of moving personnel out of the City in the wake of the pandemic, even as Goldman plans to send those who are left in London back to the office for the first time next month.
The fact that London banks are no longer allowed unfettered access to clients based on the Continent has created huge problems for all employees, but the coveted front-office workers, who typically earn the most, are finding the disruptions impossible to stomach. For example, the post-Brexit framework requires client-facing bankers to always have a "chaperone" from inside the bloc on the line whenever they speak to clients.
But it's not just Brexit that's driving the exodus now; even though American banks have largely insisted that the work-from-anywhere revolution won't be permanent, many senior bankers are deciding to stay in Europe for the climate, and other lifestyle perks.
Lifestyle choices are also playing their part, with traders and other senior staff moving too. Working from home during the pandemic enabled some bankers to leave London for warmer continental climes, mirroring a shift by Wall Street executives to Miami during the height of the COVID outbreak in New York.
Some European bankers are now looking at making the shift permanent.
"There is Brexit but not only, there is a post-Covid phenomenon too," said Emmanuel Goldstein, Morgan Stanley's France chief executive, explaining that some French bankers were returning home having spent their entire careers overseas.
Here's a rundown of some moves that have caught newswires' attention:
- Barclays' head of M&A for Europe and the Middle East, Pier Luigi Colizzi, has recently moved to Milan and will run the region's deals team from there, two sources familiar with the lender said, making him one of the few regional M&A heads based outside of London.
- Barclays has also beefed up its offices in Paris and Frankfurt with local hires, poaching senior M&A bankers from BNP Paribas and Greenhill & Co.
- Goldman Sachs' head of European corporate and sovereign derivatives, Alessandro Dusi, has moved to Milan, where overall headcount has swelled to about 60 from 20 in 2017.
- In its Madrid office, Goldman now has 60 staff, double pre-Brexit levels.
To sum up, while the mass exodus of banking jobs from the city hasn't materialized - consulting firm EY calculates that 7,600 Brexit-related financial services jobs left London up until March, a fraction of London's half-a-million financial workforce - but the jobs that have disappeared are disproportionately among the higher-paying, client-facing gigs. And while that might not be reflected in the head count, it's a major red flag in terms of influence, and virtually dooms any change the UK had of drawing back more promising private firms hoping to go public.