When The Telegraph’s Lucy Burton wrote in a comment piece this week that “Macron has failed to steal London’s financial crown,” feathers in Paris were no doubt ruffled. But the paper’s pro-London take failed to account for the nuances in the data and the ongoing commitment to the French capital by two major banks in particular: JPMorgan and Bank of America.
According to EY, just over 7,000 jobs have moved from London to the continent post-Brexit, a significantly lower number than the 12,500 forecasted by the firm in 2016, but hardly the “fraction” claimed by The Telegraph. 2,800 of those 7,000 jobs have moved to Paris, although this number should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Arnaud de Bresson, CEO of Paris Europlace – the body in charge of promoting and developing the city as an international financial centre – has told us their own data shows 4,500 direct re-locations out of the 10,000 they expect over time. Whether the EY numbers are accurate or not, Paris is still well-ahead compared to Frankfurt and Dublin, cities that the consultant estimates to have seen 1,800 and 1,200 relocations from London respectively.
JPMorgan has been the key driver of Paris’ post-Brexit financial growth, having chosen the city on the Seine as their EU trading hub. Pre-Brexit, Paris was home to 265 JPMorgan employees, a number that is expected to grow to some 800 by year end. Emmanuel Macron – the pro-finance and ex-financier President – even inaugurated the bank’s new French headquarters in 2021.
While there are reports of JPMorgan increasing their Frankfurt presence by up to 25%, that is largely focussed on asset management and commercial and investment banking, leaving Paris to be the trading hub. This is no surprise given Paris is home to the EU’s largest stock exchange by domestic market cap, Euronext. In Arnaud de Bresson’s words, “Paris is clearly the capital markets centre of the EU 27.”
Similarly, Bank of America has a major European markets hub in Paris, even if people there have been occasionally seen leaving and coming back to London. At the end of last year it employed around 500 staff there.
The City of Light, as Paris is often referred to, however still struggles to lure Londoners across the English Channel for cultural reasons. In London, South Kensington has long been home to the French expat community given it contains the Consulate, Institute Français and the Lycée Charles de Gaulle (residents have been known to complain of Lycée students smoking on their doorsteps.) Paris, however, seems to have no equivalent for homesick Brits.
One concern for bankers moving their families to the continent is their children’s education. Paris has recognised this and is building three new international schools in the region: one opened last year, the second is opening this year and the third in 2023. While those children may grow up to be bilingual, their parents still might feel the French language is a barrier to their professional and personal advancement abroad.
With the first round of the French Presidential election coming on the 10th April, eyes will be on Macron – or potentially a successor – to see what the future looks like for Paris. The sentiment is that his reforms are unlikely to be reversed and although Paris hasn’t stolen London’s financial crown – if that was ever its aim – it is certainly making inroads to become the home of post-Brexit Europe’s capital markets.
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