London’s approx 8 million size with approx 1 million in financial services makes it difficult, if not impossible, to displace
That is the opinion developed in the last quarter by Karen Jones, multiple award-winning founder and CEO of Jones Publishing - Citywealth. Jones Publishing has 460 blue chip clients who include the likes of PwC, UBS and Barclays.
With the Brexit near-hysteria mounting in the New Year, these re-assuring words should come as a relief not only to the City’s finance industry, but to all businesses jittery about the impending Article 50 trigger date.
Amongst her frequent business trips which last year included China and USA, Jones recently returned from speculative Brexit research missions to Dublin and Frankfurt, two of the European cities reporting intent on luring financial companies away from London.
Dublin (population approx 600,000)
Plus point is English language.
Downside: less developed laws, slow airport, heavy traffic, no infrastructure like schools, hospitals, housing, restaurants to take a million people.
Whilst the majority of Irish capital advisors report a 10% increase in enquiries and instructions, it is most unlikely to take away business from London, and if they do, it will be a negligible amount, she reports, based on speaking to major law firms. One of whom said the thought that Dublin could challenge London made him splutter with laughter in his coffee cup. Although like London, tech companies are opening up locally. Dublin with a population size of approx 600,000 does not have the infrastructure like schools or hospitals to absorb a million financial services staff. It is also not used to the high volumes of business travellers in London who take speed for granted. Immigration took forty minutes with one person checking passports and several planes landing and her taxi was stuck in traffic for an hour in a small City. Jones experienced low levels of service in hotels which were not used to multiple business requests or the need for productivity. Judging by the meetings she attended, laws are behind UK, and bureaucracy is higher.
Frankfurt (population approx 700,000. Munich population approx 1.3 m)
Two plus points: efficient, cheap train/tube system and basic food quality was higher.
Downside: English language very patchy, expensive, cash economy not used to credit/debit cards, minimal restaurant/bar options. Small city.
Surprisingly, the German city increasingly quoted as a rival to London, is a domestic business market, many people working in hotels and taxis don’t speak English and restaurant options are limited. Though there is an international financial services business present in the city, operating in Frankfurt would be difficult culturally, is expensive and a challenge language wise. It is also a cash economy, restaurants and taxis generally don’t want credit cards which is very different to London which is fully contact less now even paying for coffee with cards. Furthermore, it was something of a surprise to find that many of the ATM cash points don’t work for most UK debit cards when cash was what businesses demanded, which means their financial services is just not ready for international travellers. Business dining was very limited.
Strangely Frankfurt reminded Jones of her trip to China last year which included a former capital, Chongqing with a population of 10 million people, so much bigger than London, with language barriers present and similar reliance on cash for transactions. Difficulty in China, was expected as it is only newly embracing capitalism and nearly 4,800 miles away from London, but it was surprising that Frankfurt, a European city tipped as ambitious to rise to the position of financial capital of a post Brexit Europe, should be a struggle for UK business visitors. And even lumped together with Munich would represent a population of approx 2 million, far smaller than London’s 8 million+.