Bankers eyeing Eastern promise

Investment bankers have voted Singapore as the place they'd most like to work. Less banker-bashing there, presumably.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 21 Feb 2011

Where would investment bankers most like to emigrate? Probably not a question you’ve found yourself pondering before, but financial services recruitment firm Astbury Marsden has nonetheless provided us with the answer: apparently, nearly a third of bankers would most like to move to Singapore. That shunts London, traditionally the most buzzing financial capital in the world, into second place. Has our penchant for banker-bashing finally driven them away?

According to Astbury Marsden's survey, 22% chose London as their ideal place to work, while Hong Kong came a close third; New York came in fourth with 19% of the vote, and Dubai brought up the rear with 13% (which still sounds like a lot to us). But the cities of South-East Asia are clearly expected to be increasingly prominent as time goes by; just under half of respondents said that. in 10 years’ time, they expect Shanghai to be the world’s biggest financial services centre, while 31% chose Hong Kong. London, New York and the UAE each got a paltry 8% of the vote.

So what’s so appealing about the East? Well, it could have something to do with the determinedly anti-banker mood in these parts. Bankers are public enemy number one these days, having helped get us into our current mess, which means they're easy targets for pot-shots (from politicians and the media) and tax hikes. But it's a different story out East, where the atmosphere - not to mention the tax regime - is a lot less oppressive.

So far, though we’ve heard bankers making threatening noises about moving to Switzerland or such like, most have stuck it out. But Astbury Marsden says that while the chances of the big banks upping and leaving are slim, there’s a steady trickle of individuals who are getting out while they can. ‘We are constantly fielding enquiries from talented bankers in London asking us to find them jobs in the Asia Pacific region.’ And who wouldn’t want to relocate to a nice, warm location where both taxes and the chances of your being egged in the street are much lower?

The trouble is, that with Britain’s financial industry making up a sizeable chunk of our GDP, if bankers really were to make good on those threats and scarper in their droves, it wouldn't do wonders for our national output. Bankers, eh? Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.

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