How Frankfurt Accidentally Attracted Dozens of London Banks

Updated on
September 20, 2022

This could be one of the finest examples of highly successful accidental marketing: Frankfurt had a marketing team create a dummy website that might be used to attract new business to the city. Initially the team working on the project didn’t think the site would even be used, until the entire world was surprised with the confirmation of “Brexit” in the recent European Union referendum in Britain. The website went live immediately, and it became a roaring success.

According to Michaela Kahle, spokeswoman for the “Welcome to FrankfurtRheinMain”, the site received nearly 30 thousand views since it was released, and hundreds of inquiries were submitted. The contacts ranged from big banks to modest tech start-ups, all of which wanted to leap at the opportunity of moving shop to Frankfurt.

Even though the negotiations leading up to Britain’s exit will take around two years, many firms are extremely wary of the possible impacts, so interest has soared towards new headquarters in Europe. Frankfurt is a very alluring option, since it has a strong reputation as the financial capital of Germany. Around 200 banks are headquartered there, including the European Central Bank and EIOPA (insurance regulator for the European Union).

Typical questions posed by these firms looking to relocate include topics such as German law on immigrant workers, banking licenses as well as local regulation, the feasibility of English-speaking business, as well as questions about the local talent pool.

Further Measures to Build Up on Frankfurt’s Attractiveness

Following Brexit, it’s clear that many firms will have no choice but to relocate to an EU country. Cities such as Paris, Amsterdam or Dublin are some of the most logical choices, but the German banking federation has planned a series of reforms and adjustments aimed at making Frankfurt a serious contender to those cities. Michael Kemmer of the Bankenverband hopes that such initiatives will add extra shine to Frankfurt’s key strengths, which include quality infrastructures (both physical and digital), widespread English fluency, and support from the robust legal system of Germany.

According to Kemmer, the government should even go further by making the law more accessible to English-speaking agents, as well as creating financial support for new start-ups. The specialist jokingly pointed out how most of his proposals match the highest aspirations of bank lobbyists everywhere, who also dream of having the European Banking authority move to Frankfurt. He reinforced his position by stating there will be heavy competition between cities looking to attract firms leaving the UK.

Even as Kemmer urges the government to start planning ahead now, he is sure that most banks and firms won’t make a final decision until the political dust has settled on the matter of Brexit. While this will likely be the typical scenario for most companies, some firms have already decided to make the leap.

According to Ralph Schonder, representative of Knight Frank (a real estate consultancy business) one firm has committed to renting an area of over 10 thousands square meters, where they plan to establish operations soon. In any case, the general expectation is that such deals will be the exception to the rule; according to Matthias Stanke – a managing consultant at Colliers International, much talking an inquiring has been done, but most confirmations are expected later in the Brexit process, when the proceedings are clear.

Likewise, national financial regulator BaFin also attested to a definite, although still relatively slight increase in the volume of inquiries from companies considering relocation to Germany. However, Bafin’s spokesman also pointed out there is a notable discrepancy between inquiries and actual applications for a banking license.

The bottom line is that commercial rents in the city of Frankfurt should eventually soar, and international schools should receive many applications from the progeny of relocated bankers. While none of this should happen in the immediate future, it’s very likely that Frankfurt will be much strengthened as a financial center in the coming years.

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