Frankfurt will profit when many bankers move from the Thames to the Main. Here is an interview about the chances and challenges with Dr. Rolf E. Stokburger, Managing Partner, Germany, at the international HR consultancy Boyden and a specialist in the search and placement of executive personnel.
People working in London’s financial sector seem increasingly willing to move to Frankfurt. What are the reasons for this?
Dr. Rolf E. Stokburger: The increasing relevance of the Brexit vote and the resulting decision of a number of banks to switch their location for financial services and products to Frankfurt are causing more and more London bankers to think about moving to Frankfurt. American and Japanese banks, in particular, such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citi, Nomura, Daichi or the Swiss-based UBS, have already announced their intention to resettle. We can distinguish two groups of bankers at the moment. Firstly, there are those who see relocation as an opportunity for career advancement and therefore want to play a pioneering role as a “first mover”. Secondly, we have a lot of professionals whose move to Frankfurt is planned as a part of the resettlement of their business division – and who simply have no other choice but to “take it or leave it”.
When all these people live and work in Frankfurt in future, what are the opportunities that such an inflow presents? And what are the challenges?
Stokburger: When the first wave of London bankers comes to Frankfurt, our financial centre will grow further and the city will become more important internationally. But the expansion of existing foreign bank representations in Frankfurt and the foundation of new banks under German law will also create new jobs for German bankers, especially in the fields of risk management, compliance and administration. In addition, any enlargement of the Frankfurt financial centre will certainly help attract further players and operators in the market, such as business consultants, auditors, law firms and private equity funds. The banks resident in London at the moment, on the other hand, will inevitably have to draw up appropriate incentive plans for Frankfurt so as to induce and motivate their employees and executives to move to and remain in the Main metropolis. And for its part, the City of Frankfurt will have to face up to the challenge of providing enough living space for homes along with the sufficient international school places and day-care facilities.
How can the Rhine-Main region best prepare for this influx?
Stokburger: The relocation of capacities to Frankfurt announced up to now must be seen within a longer perspective. It can safely be assumed that the establishment and expansion of specific banking houses that has now been publicised will be followed by a number of others – a great opportunity for Frankfurt as a business location and financial centre, but also a great chance for Frankfurt as a major city. With a view to this imminent influx, as well as any further settlements that may come, the city and the region should act together with a more unified voice and with a greater resolve and should offensively advertise the merits of Frankfurt as a top location. Frankfurt, together with the many towns and municipalities in its environs, has a host of advantages over a mega-city like London – and these benefits should be proactively promoted. A glance at the various construction projects currently in progress in the City of Frankfurt already shows that at least the real estate sector is geared up for growth. To make sure that the integration of new bankers into the urban and social life of the city is as smooth and successful as possible, it is now up to the city marketing and development planning agencies to communicate the cultural strengths and advantages of Frankfurt and its vibrant diversity more effectively. This will help brush up, if not revamp the image of a city that is partially perceived as being too provincial.
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Picture credits: Boyden