Jamie Dimon probably does not think of himself as running a “Mercedes in the services sector”. JPMorgan’s boss has a grander, more Bentley-sized, sense of self. But that is how Poland’s deputy prime minister last week hailed the US bank’s plan to bring 2,500 jobs to Warsaw.
Whatever the rhetoric, this announcement is a big deal and one of the most significant new office commitments by a bank in Europe since the Brexit vote last year.
When JPMorgan officially announces the investment on Tuesday, it may well play down the Brexit angle. Most of the roles are apparently new or transfers from Asia. Nonetheless, staff at the bank’s Bournemouth site in the UK which employs 4,000 people, predominantly in similar roles are likely to feel a little nervous.
Understandably so. Even if no jobs are moved now, Warsaw will become a rival location for future investment. Other banks, such as Credit Suisse, which have bulked up their operations in Poland, have simultaneously cut staff in the UK. Deutsche Bank, has made little secret of plans to slash jobs and shift roles from the UK to Germany and staff at the bank’s back-office Birmingham outpost, are among the most worried about job security, senior executives admit.
Such developments illustrate two key points that policymakers forget. First, many of the jobs that could be at risk from Brexit may not be located in the City of London, regional roles currently appear most likely at risk and / or certainly future growth.
The second neglected point is that while politicians make slow progress in Brexit talks, the companies affected are getting on with investment decisions that favour the EU27. This is less about the eagerly watched fight for EU headquarter locations as Frankfurt has largely defeated Dublin and Paris in that battle and more about the non trading and sales, operational jobs.
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