In the wake of the Brexit decision, a number of banks will be relocating. This raises a lot of questions – political ones as well as quite practical ones.
The search for an alternative location to London is currently occupying the thoughts of globally operating banks. Some have already opted for Frankfurt and are currently moving here. Others are still weighing up the pros and cons of the alternatives in the European Union (EU). Frankfurt has a number of advantages in such comparisons.
As an international financial centre, Frankfurt has a lot to offer. The residence of the European Central Bank alone lends the location a special allure. But there are more solid arguments. That’s why – not only since the ultimate Brexit resolution – the city and state governments, politicians and interest groups have been working hard to provide decision-makers in the banking world with tangible arguments and sound Information.
Core issue labour law
One of the core issues that comes up again and again in dialogues is the protection against dismissal in German labour law. This requires that alternative employment must be sounded out. If a trader loses money for his employer, the employer will not want to have to employ him elsewhere. This is because the game runs differently on the trading floors. The dealers have less security, but are paid far better. Around 80 percent of the income millionaires from EU banks are based in London. Most of them are employed in dealing. Such a deal turns out to be good for both parties: if an employer wants to dismiss an employee, he or she receives an easily calculated compensation.
The importance of this aspect is also well-known in the political community. The Hessian Finance Minister Dr. Thomas Schäfer has already taken up the topic: “Nothing has changed as far as our objective is concerned of easing protection against dismissal for employees with very high income in credit and financial service companies,” he stressed once again in recent days. He knows that he has the support of the majority of people when he says that a high-paid trader is less worthy of protection than a normal bank employee. And this hits home with the decision-makers in the major banks.
However, the Finance Minister is convinced that the solution cannot merely be derived from the income: “It has become clear that a solution in labour law tailored to the specific credit and financing companies finds much greater support.” What he means is to exclude a precisely defined group of risk carriers from the protection against dismissal – and therefore to remove the basis of one of the main criticisms of the Frankfurt location. The Hessian state government considers such a statutory amendment to be feasible and expects a bill to be introduced after the German federal elections in autumn 2018.
Dr. Thomas Schäfer, Hessian Finance Minister: “We want to ease the protection against dismissal rights for the group of risk carriers in credit and financial service companies.”
Go Frankfurt Tax
There are also questions in the UK as regards German tax law that require elucidation. A major hurdle is not only the interpretation of the law, but also the German language. In order to help all those who want to come to Frankfurt as Brexit immigrants, the Hessian Ministry of Finance has set up an English-language homepage and a hotline. This is an offer to answer the very practical questions that arise when employees and their families move to another country, to a new city where a foreign language is spoken. The Finance State Secretary Bernadette Weyland has activated the service in mid-June: “Call us, write an e-mail or visit us online. We are happy to help you in English.”
Dr. Bernadette Weyland, Hessian Finance State Secretary: “Citizen Service has a long tradition with us. We now offer this service in English as well.”
Frankfurt is being heard
From major political decisions to small-scale assistance in day-to-day issues – there’s a lot of movement going on at the moment to make Frankfurt an attractive, and also likeable, location for the employees of banks from all over the world. To do the right thing is the indispensable prerequisite in such a competition among locations. To talk about it is the essential groundwork. This is also the maxim of Hubertus Väth, who, as Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance, has conducted over 600 discussions with journalists from all over the world since the Brexit decision: “We have achieved that the world is talking about Frankfurt. We are in the pole position as regards major banks relocating their headquarters after the Brexit and can already record numerous successes.” That’s why he is not only meeting with representatives of large and prestigious media companies, but also with the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the New Zealand channel Newstalk ZB and the Russian online platform Vestnik Kavkaza. In this way, the message of Frankfurt Main Finance can be transported into the farthest corners of the world. The fact that he is being heard is shown by the great media echo: since the Brexit decision, there have been reports in more than 200 media from 31 countries in 525 articles, which corresponds to a coverage reaching over 2.6 billion Readers.
Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance: “We are in the pole position as regards major banks relocating their headquarters after the Brexit.”
Picture credits: bilder-bibliothek.blogspot.de / Skyline – Frankfurt am Main, HMdF / Sabrina Feige