Why an anti-EU immigration stance is disastrous for the City of London
In the build up to the UK elections next year, curbing EU immigration is a hot topic. David Cameron, no doubt stung by the election of the first UKIP MP earlier this month, has said that he will have “one last go” at curbing immigration from the 28 EU countries into the UK including, according to The Times, potentially applying the “emergency brake” on immigration from some – unnamed – EU countries.
Add this to the rhetoric being spouted by Boris Johnson on the Andrew Marr show last weekend when he suggested some “some sort of points-based system” similar to that of US or Australia to curb the number of EU immigrants into the UK and immigration is clearly at the forefront of right-leaning politicians’ thoughts.
Official figures for the number of EU migrants living in the UK still suggest a relatively low number. The Office for National Statistics released numbers earlier this year that said 2m EU migrants – or 4% of the UK population – are currently in the country. These stats, however, go back to 2010 and the current figure could be substantially higher than this.
Within London’s financial services sector, however, any restriction on the free movement of EU nationals has the potential to be much more damaging. Our own figures, illustrated below, suggest that 17% of the 156,000 people registered on our database working in the City of London, are from EU nations. Clearly, a disproportionate number of people from the EU are moving to the UK for high-paid financial services positions. A number of investment banks – notably Goldman Sachs – have already stated that a full-fledged move out of the EU would force them to relocate, but one of the key reasons for this would be a new inability to freely attract talent.
France is by far the largest provider of EU financial services talent to the UK, according to our figures, but the countries most hit by the Eurozone crisis - Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal – also feature highly on the list and Poland is the source of the largest number of financial services professionals from Eastern European countries.
So, where are they working? As the table below shows (click for big), front office investment banking roles – whether that’s the advisory or the markets businesses – still provide the bulk of opportunities for EU nationals working in the UK.
Polish financial services professionals in the UK are most likely to working in accounting – with 30% of people in this sector – followed by technology positions. Accounting also houses the highest proportion of Greeks than any other individual sector, with 21% of the total.
Germans in the City appear to gravitate towards higher paying positions – the highest proportion (30%) work in investment banking advisory roles, and a larger section work in private equity than any other country.
Predictably, and a little depressingly, an investment banks’ country of origin can have an effect on the nationalities they hire. 54% of French candidates in the UK work for either BNP Paribas or Societe Generale, suggest our figures, while 27% of Germans work for Deutsche Bank.