Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Project Fear: JP Morgan in Brexit job cut warning

OK, so I said I wasn’t going to react to media reports, but this wound me up.

In short, I think Mr Dimon is talking nonsense.  I reckon he’s doing a favour for his mate OsBo; after all, regulated and policy-maker seem to have been getting quite cosy since 2015.

Questions for Mr Dimon:

What legal or commercial objective would require the bank to re-locate staff from a Brexited London to somewhere else in Europe?  What laws currently require financial transactions to ‘take place’ on a particular country’s turf?  What laws in the future would require the same?  Does the rise of ‘fintech’ and blockchain technology have no impact in this story?

If jobs were shifted from London to, say, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Warsaw or Prague, how scalable and flexible would that workforce be under each country’s employment law?  In making the business case to your managers in New York, how do you respond to their inevitable question, “If we needed to do it, what’s the cost, timescale and process of the exit strategy or downsizing?”

How easy would it be to recruit your staff in any of those cities?  Your business of mergers and acquisitions is all about doing nothing for months, followed by 72 hours of non-stop paper-shuffling documenting a transaction in progress (“feast & famine”).  Hardly a family-friendly set of working hours!  You need lots of young people, with tonnes of enthusiasm, relatively low pay expectations and no family commitments of their own.  How big is this labour market in and around any of those cities?

Where is the underlying demand for major capital transactions within Europe?  Come to think of it, where is the underlying consumer demand that would justify major capital transactions and investments within Europe?  Are you more likely to close, or reduce, your London operations than you are to re-locate them to mainland Europe?

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