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People and MarketsCommentP&M Notebook

Brexodus rolls into another year

Bank Junction is a road junction in the City of London, seen here unusually empty

Almost two years after the official date of the UK's departure from the EU, some banks are still in the process of relocating staff

Karan Shah, a managing director in Barclays' European syndicate team, is the latest front office debt capital markets banker to relocate to Paris, but he will almost certainly not be the last.

Shah is taking on a new role overseeing Barclays' EU syndicate hub in the French capital, where he joins several syndicate bankers who have moved there in the past few years, including FIG specialist Yasser Chahboun.

The process of relocating bankers from London to the continent, in planning at most firms since at least 2018, has been drawn out over time by a combination of pandemic-related travel restrictions and negotiations with affected staff.

Complicating matters still further are the negotiations with European regulators over the required headcounts at continental hubs, and precisely which activities must be carried out there.

Our recent poll of heads of debt capital markets showed that some managers are still unsure what the final outcome will be. Four heads of DCM said that future relocations due to Brexit could not be predicted, because they would depend on the stance adopted by banking overseers on the continent.

“For many financial services firms, we are still far from being fully ‘post-Brexit’," noted Omar Ali, EMEIA financial services leader at EY, when the advisory firm updated its Financial Services Brexit Tracker in December. "The Memorandum of Understanding for the sector remains unsigned, and there is not yet a definitive outcome on equivalence. While the EU has proposed an extension to temporary equivalence for UK-based clearing beyond June 2022, it is uncertain how long this will be for. And, although the EU has taken a pragmatic stance so far, there is no doubt that it plans to build up its long-term strategic capabilities."

Most of the heads of DCM surveyed by GlobalCapital said that Brexit relocations in their teams would be complete by the end of last year. But with so much still up in the air and relations between the UK and the EU still frosty, to say the least, it seems impossible to rule out a power grab by regulators on the continent that could force them to reassess the situation.

Jefferies' FIG idea

Shah was not the only banker starting the new year in a new office, although "office" might not be quite the right word, given the setback dealt to reopening plans by the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Jefferies, for instance, is onboarding a new head of FIG DCM in the form of Thomas Blackmore, who joins from Credit Suisse. If he was physically present in the office, he might have seen some familiar faces there, since his new firm is something of a haven for ex-Credit Suisse FIG M&A and capital markets bankers. Blackmore's former colleague, Samir Dhanani, joined Jefferies' FIG DCM team in November.

Elsewhere in FIG DCM, DZ Bank promoted Matthias Ebert from head of covered bonds to head of FIG DCM, replacing Joerg Mueller, who is winding down for retirement.

Green bankers sought

Meanwhile, hiring for sustainable debt capital markets vacancies appears set to remain a strong theme in bank recruitment this year.

In Frankfurt, DZ Bank is interviewing candidates for two roles on its sustainable bonds and financing desk. The bank has recently removed the desk from under the umbrella of SSAs and made into an independent unit under Marcus Pratsch.

And in London, ING has created the new job title of UK lead for sustainable finance, picking an internal candidate, Arash Mojabi, for the role.

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