EFinancial Careers Uk: French bankers peer into the abyss from the?safety? of London
Fri 17 May 2013
Things are not going well in France. Today, Michael Hintze, founder of hedge fund CQS, pointed to a recent spate of car burning as a leading indicator of French social unrest. Earlier in the week, a report from the Pew Research Center found that the French were particularly dispirited within Europe: 91% of them say their economy
is doing badly. On top of all this, French bank BNP Paribas is doing the unthinkable and warning of significant job cuts in France. France is plunging into an abyss of gloom, said the Washington Post last week. In London, meanwhile, escapee French bankers are sanguine. Most French people in London are very happy to be here, a French banker turned hedge fund manager told us. No ones doing as well out of working in banking as they used to and a few people have gone back home but most of us are here long term.
French bankers in London gravitate to South Kensington, drawn by the French Lyce (a French language school) in Cromwell Road. William Hughes Ward, sales manager at Kensington estate agency Marsh & Parsons (and a former employee of Deutsche Bank), said theres been no diminution in French financiers enthusiasm for the area. Anything from 15% to 25% of our buyers are French, said Hughes Ward. Most of the houses around here cost 3m, he added. -Thats the nature of the market in this area and is what French customers are interested in.
Les Trois Oursons, a French-English nursery in nearby Gloucester Terrace, said still has a very long waiting list for anyone inclined to raise bilingual children. There has definitely not been a decline in the number of French people using our nurseries, said Sophie Day, team leader for the one year olds.
French banking community in London happy and maturing as long as members have jobs Alexis Dognin, a director at French derivatives broker Newedge, said the French diaspora in London is maturing and is less clustered around South Kensington than it once was. When I arrived in London in 1997, everyone
French was living in South Kensington. Now a lot of people like me live a more local life. Dognin lives in South London, but didnt specify whereabouts exactly. Most French people living in London would need a big incentive to go home, said Dognin. Its not very glorious in France right now, he said. The new political order is trying to repair the damage thats been done, but trust has already been lost.
The wife of one French banker who lived in London but returned home when her husband lost his job said French bankers are happy to stay in London as long as theyre earning good money. Its ok as long as your husband is earning good money, but French bankers in London are often used to spending heavily they have a property in South Kensington, a house in the South of France and a ski chalet. Thats an expensive lifestyle and they cant save any money it causes problems when they become unemployed.
French financiers in London feel hard done by Unfortunately, the French dont have a reputation for hard work especially in some U.S. circles. In February, Maurice Taylor, CEO of Titan International, a U.S. tyre manufacturer, criticized employees at a French plant for laziness. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three, complained Taylor in a letter to the French industry minister published in Les Echos.
French bankers peer into the abyss from the ?safety? of London
Dognin said this version of French working habits is unfair: Its simplistic to say the French dont work hard. If youlook at the statistics, productivity per hour in France is better than a lot of other developed countries, he said.However, the French hedge fund manager said his time in banking taught him that French bankers are often atthe bottom of the hierarchy. You get a lot of junior French people working in quantitative roles, but if youreworking for an American bank in London the Americans are on top, followed by the British, followed by theItalians, followed by the French, he said. If theres a programme of redundancies, French people are often hit