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A Year On – How has Brexit Affected the Senior Executive Hiring Market?


A year on from Brexit, the UK’s decision to leave the EU is now starting to have an impact on the senior executive hiring environment- not only in London – but in other European countries says DHR International, the global executive search firm.

However, DHR says that in terms of movements of executive roles we are still very much in the “phoney war”. Larger movements of execs can only sensibly take place once there is more clarity over what the end result of the negotiations will be.

Investment banks are already contingency planning for a hard Brexit

Ramona Kühnel- Linnemann, Partner in DHR’s Frankfurt office comments:

“Regardless of the election result international banks now have to move to full contingency planning mode. That doesn’t mean shifting more than handfuls of staff but it does mean securing office space overseas and moving trading platforms away from London.”

“Whilst talk may be of a softer Brexit, banks and asset managers cannot sit back and hope everything will work out for the best.”

Frankfurt or Paris – who has the edge in winning jobs from London?

Xavier Alix, Partner in DHR’s Paris office comments:

“Over the last year Frankfurt has positioned itself as the strongest alternative to London for banks looking to move and German employers have been clearer over their intentions to take market share from the UK.”

“This is a unique opportunity – for Paris and Frankfurt- to reverse the gravitational pull of London as the European financial centre.”

Ramona Kühnel- Linnemann adds:

“Frankfurt has a language barrier in its wealth management and private banking sector, where English is little used so these may be areas where Paris or Dublin can compete more effectively.”

Is it really that hard to attract Investment bankers away from London?

Xavier Alix says:

“The number of French and German ex-pats willing to look at executive jobs outside London is rising steadily. There is also a large stock of British bankers who have lived abroad previously are also thinking now about relocating. They know they have a certain first mover advantage.”

“British bankers who have lived abroad are obviously less worried about that the challenges of relocating to another country.”

Outside financial services, other industries have been more hesitant but US employers looking at Continental Europe more seriously

Frank Smeekes, Head of Europe, of DHR continues:

“Companies in industries such as life sciences, and automotive are beginning to think about moving some key senior roles, and R&D personnel overseas.”

“However, it’s likely that most industries will wait until the elections in Germany are over, before making any further decisions or plans.”

“US businesses are now far keener to invest in Continental Europe whereas prior to Brexit that would have primarily have been done through the UK.”

“American companies tend not to be afraid to take a gamble, and whilst some other countries will hold back and wait for the dust to settle, US businesses are stepping up investment on the Continent.”

Opportunities lost to the UK are real but less visible

Adds Frank:

“To avoid complications later on some investment is quietly being rerouted to Continental Europe . Therefore, opportunities are opening up in other European countries that might otherwise have gone to the UK.”


Chris is a digital marketing and publishing whizz by trade, having worked alongside the Automotive, Information Security and Software Asset Management sectors.

Specialising in data analysis and social media, he combines an analytical approach with a creative flair to achieve the best results. With a keen interest in Technology and Politics, Chris is constantly on the look-out for the latest stories around change and innovation.

As a lover of all things innovative, he has developed a keen eye for spotting the latest trends and hot topics. He sources and reads the latest news and thought-leadership articles from the world of recruitment before sharing them with the social media population.


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