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U.S. banks' Brexit offices are ready in Paris and Frankfurt, but they're not hiring

U.S. banks' post-Brexit EU offices are up and running, but there's still not much sign of real front office recruitment on the ground. 

Morgan Stanley let it be known last week that it has occupied its office in Frankfurt's Omniturm, where it already employs around 350 people and is thought to have space for up to 250 more. This followed Goldman Sachs' declaration last month that it too was in place in Frankfurt's Marienturm, where it has around 300 employees and room for 300 more. Bank of America, meanwhile, has been in its new Paris office since the start of the year and expects to have 400 staff there by 2020.

Only JPMorgan and Citi don't seem to have shiny new premises in the French and German financial centres, although both are said to be looking for somewhere in Paris (presumably with a degree of desperation at this stage).

However, even as Brexit coheres for what may still be the very near future, there's not much sign that banks are actively chasing experienced front office staff in Europe. Yes, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America have been picking off a handful of trading staff from rivals in Paris, and yes there's been some movement in Frankfurt M&A (Morgan Stanley just hired Christian Wagner, an MD from Nomura, and Barclays just hired Kabir Chhatwani as a financial sponsors MD from Morgan Stanley), but most of the good jobs at big U.S. banks are still being advertised in London.

There's not that much hiring anywhere in Europe this quarter, but in September and October Morgan Stanley, Citi and JPMorgan have posted 10, six and seven new front office banking jobs for experienced people in London and just four three and one respectively in Paris and Frankfurt combined. Bank of America's hiring was most balanced, but even that was skewed towards London: it posted eight new front office jobs in the City, five in Paris and none at all in Frankfurt. 

The hiring bias in favour of London reflects the City's preeminence as a centre for experienced financial expertise.  It comes as Citi's chief executive in EMEA told the FT that London will remain Europe's preeminent financial centre thanks to its time zone, laws and 'support mechanisms.'  

There are signs, however, that banks are increasingly chasing students for EU offices as they seek to grow talent from the ground up. Goldman Sachs (which doesn't break out the dates it posts its jobs and isn't therefore included in the stats above for Q3), now runs student programmes in Warsaw, Frankfurt, Paris, Stockholm, and Milan alongside its programme in London. Bank of America is looking for recent PhDs for a new 'Data and Innovation Group' in Paris. JPMorgan is looking for 'working students' in Frankfurt, and Citi is hiring interns for a January start for its equity derivatives teams in Paris. 

Given the proxmity of the October 31st Brexit deadline, it might be expected that U.S. banks would add experienced staff in Europe a little more enthusiastically in the third quarter. So far, that isn't happening. If front office hiring takes off in Europe, it's likely to be 2020 when the shape of Brexit is a lot more certain.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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