Paris pushing its claim to City bankers

Published:  8 Feb at 6 PM
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Just as the strong possibility of a hard Brexit looms closer, a French charm offensive has arrived in London to woo financial professionals and bankers.

It’s no surprise Paris is putting itself forward as an alternative hub to London
for financial services once Brexit severs the passporting ties which come with European Union membership. Germany and the Netherlands have also indicated a willingness to welcome bankers and the like, but the Paris team may have stolen their thunder by being the first to arrive.

The French team, led by regional president and former budget minister Valerie Pecresse, aims to grab leading bankers working in the City and transfer them along with their money-making abilities to the French capital. Beneficial aspects of the transfer include much cheaper prime location rents, excellent connectivity, high standard international schools and, of course, Paris itself as the perfect upscale expat location.

The city’s romance, food, arts and sophisticated lifestyle are being pushed by the team, but the most important consideration for financial firms and individual finance professionals is France’s lower level of income tax. Compared with the UK’s 45 per cent top rate for mega-earners, France’s 28 per cent is a dream, especially as the annual rate has now been extended from five years to eight.

Downsides for financial executives, however, include the structure of French employment laws which make fining workers extremely difficult. In the unstable world of international finance, employers need to be able to hire or fire according to increasing or decreasing operational costs. Flexibility of this kind is essential to the industry, according to major firms.

Perhaps the most important consideration is politics, involving the upcoming French election and the popularity of Marine le Pen’s National Front party. The political storm of economic populism seems to be trending in the West right now, with its supporters in France disapproving of reducing taxes for expats and loosening employment laws to suit the financial industry. The French team have already met with senior bankers from Credit Suisse, Blackrock and Goldman Sachs, and HSBC has already said it’s planning to move 1,000 jobs to Paris.

Source: BBC News
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