Brexit: EU City workers heading home takes toll on job market

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EU workers heading home or to locations elsewhere in Europe have contributed to a 29 per cent drop in the number of job hunters in the City, a new report on financial services recruitment shows.

When it comes to jobs available in financial services there has been a 2 per cent decrease year-on-year, the latest Morgan McKinley London Employment Monitor reveals.

The figures are much higher month-on-month with an 81 per cent increase in jobs available and 83 per cent increase in professionals seeking jobs, but there was a significant drop in both cases in December.

Without last month’s dip, the number of job hunters is the lowest its been over the last year.

Operations director Hakan Enver says the job market will remain cautious until the terms of Brexit are known and put in motion.

He says the “trickling off” of non-British EU nationals working in the City, who comprise up to 10 per cent of its workforce, has contributed to the downwards trend in job hunters.

“Many of our non-British clients are choosing to return home, or seeking opportunities elsewhere in Europe,” says Enver. “People wanting to get ahead of the threat of having their right to work revoked is understandable, but is a huge loss for the City.”

The Investment Association has previously reported that 11 per cent of the asset management workforce is made up of EU nationals and warned that the industry relies on the UK remaining open and attractive to global talent.

Last week the House of Commons voted against protecting the residency rights of EU citizens in the UK, which the report argues could be a deterrent to top talent in the Continent who might have otherwise considered a career in London.

It also leaves existing EU nationals in limbo.

Regarding relocations of staff to elsewhere in Europe from their London offices, Enver predicts institutions will decentralise across a number of locations, including Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin arguing each of these cities alone does not have the infrastructure to absorb a mass influx of workers.

“When you add up the half million people who work in the City of London and their spouses and children, you’re looking at over triple the population of Frankfurt, and over half the population of Paris,” Enver says.

He points out that a handful of top financial services institutions are openly shopping around for new office space in Canary Wharf.

Beyond Brexit, Enver says the City must keep pace with the US as President Donald Trump speaks plans to deregulate financial services.

“If London doesn’t adapt to Dodd-Frank changes, then we should worry about losing jobs to New York much more than losing jobs to Frankfurt,” Enver says.