Belfast Telegraph

Brexit halts hiring in Square Mile as City jobs market contracts

Brexit has put the brakes on hiring in the Square Mile, with new figures showing a sharp contraction in the City jobs market ahead of Article 50 being triggered.

The number of City jobs up for grabs dropped 23% to 6,945 in February, compared to 9,015 in January, according to Morgan McKinley's London Employment Monitor.

On a year-on-year basis, the City saw a 17% drop in jobs openings, down from 8,325 in February 2016.

The report said it was a clear sign that the City job market is still under stress.

"Brexit has pushed institutions into two camps," Hakan Enver, operations director at Morgan McKinley Financial Services, said.

"On one side we've got the 'business as usual' team, and on the other we have the institutions that are tired of the Government's hemming and hawing and have already begun to move jobs to other EU countries.

"It's the latter group that's contributed to the quarter drop in jobs available."

The survey results come ahead of the official trigger of Article 50 expected later this month which mark the start of Brexit negotiations, which could provide further clarity for businesses.

But Mr Enver said the data shows that Brexit has had a "fundamental depressing effect" on jobs.

Meanwhile, the number of job seekers in financial services fell 12% month-on-month in February, which was a lower number than expected given that candidates tend to register interest in January.

Year-on-year, City job seeker totals tumbled by 38%.

"London is still home to the best financial services talent in the world, but if the jobs go, so will people. And when they leave, it will devastate the financial services infrastructure, costing British citizens jobs, too," Mr Enver said.

A number of companies have already publicly announced plans to move operations out of the UK in order to safeguard segments of the business reliant on access to the single market for financial services.

Rival financial hubs including Paris, Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg are expected to benefit from the exodus.

HSBC is on course to move 1,000 jobs from its London office to France where it already has a full service universal bank after buying up Credit Commercial de France in 2002, while Barclays is considering bulking up its Dublin offices, which hosts about 100 staff.

Others like JP Morgan have yet to settle on a location, though its chief executive Jamie Dimon has said that around 4,000 of its 16,000 UK staff could be shifted out of Britain, depending on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

UBS has also said it could move up to 1,500 of its London staff to the continent.

But Mr Enver said Brexit poses a broader threat to Europe's financial services network, which could be left depleted if banks opt to shift jobs to other regions like the US and Asia.

"There's no telling what the City or the larger financial services sector will look like a year from today, as companies continue to move a piece here and a piece there. Once enough pieces of the banking infrastructure are dispersed, the whole thing could collapse," he said.

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