Frankfurt - a city on the rise

Hi everyone,

as WSO always seems to be very American I thought i'd start an European discussion

There was an article on Bloomberg last week giving updates on which banks are moving headcount from London to Frankfurt/Paris/Dublin. (headline: "Brexit Winner Frankfurt gets another shot a Finance Stardom")

Nomura, Sumitomo Mitsui and Daiwa have picked Frankfurt and MS apparently is close to picking Frankfurt as well.
UBS and GS are moving up to 2500 people to Frankfurt.
Deutsche is rumored to move most of its trading & sales operations to Frankfurt for logistic and cost cutting reasons.

I working at a Cash Equity sales desk in Frankfurt (3+ years) and have lived here all my life so here are my 2 cents:
Frankfurt is a bit too small (even when including the suburbs and surroundings) - essentially I am just scared my rent will explode. Also one reason London is a major financial hub is because of the AM & HF money managed out of London + Insurance and reinsurance while there are only 4 large AMs in Frankfurt (Deutsche AM, Allianz GI, Union, Deka). On the other hand Frankfurt has already hosts a lot of banking operations + the ECB which is a major plus. Also the regulator Bafin is one of the few prepared for more complex financial products.

On the plus side i think that there will be a lot of hiring in terms of S&T in Frankfurt due to people not leaving London for Frankfurt.
regarding Frankfurt itself:
I love Frankfurt and all my mates who moved here love it too. It has the metropolitan feel while still being really small meaning you can get anywhere within 20 mins which imo makes socializing a lot easier compared to London, Paris, Dublin, Berlin, Hamburg etc. Also all of you sports car owning bankers could finally use your cars properly going 300km/h on the A5.

What are your thoughts?

(happy to answer any questions about Frankfurt, changes going on right now etc)

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Comments (52)

Jul 13, 2017 - 3:29am

If you ask me: No
Germans & most other Europeans start learning English when they are 11 (5th Grade) therefore communication l as an American/Brit is no problem at all.
I'd like to think that in contrast to Paris (I did an internship in Paris) one could live and work in Frankfurt without having to learn the language if not an absolute necessity for the individuals position.
We have many non-German speakers in Trading, sales and IBD positions and the overall office language is English.

Best Response
Sep 19, 2017 - 6:51pm

I agree with this as well. Germans speak English very well. You will be able to ask for directions and get a usable answer from almost anyone below 50 even outside of the cities. While your life is obviously a lot easier if you learn German over time, you can live in Frankfurt without knowing German quite comfortably as opposed to most other cities in Europe according to a few friends of mine.
Regarding the comment on Paris, it is simply not possible to live in Paris without speaking at least intermediate French or have a friend and a very supportive employer who can help you with all the administrative documents (and there will be a lot of them!). Additionally, the English language skills of the French are just atrocious. I have had friends who tried living there with out speaking French and it simply does not work.
I would recommend that you do a lot of research on the local culture and especially the work culture if you seriously want to move here. Different countries speak to different people. As an example: While Paris certainly has a nice flair as a city, it sometimes also means that a meeting scheduled for 10am will start at 11.30am for no meaningful reason. If a meeting is scheduled for 10am in Germany, people will show up at 9.58am to make sure that everybody is ready to start at 10am.

Aug 2, 2017 - 5:53am

I did exactly this, and while German was technically not required (for some shops) I would recommend you learn the language relatively quickly, for a few reasons.

  • Many shops (at least in IB) require German (close to fluency) to keep their customers happy if they are perhaps not comfortable speaking English.

  • Beyond the actual work, German will be the first (and go-to) language of many of your colleagues. Even if all of your work is in English, it's not ideal if you aren't providing anything to the lunch conversation/company outings because you don't speak the language.

This could be different in S&T than IB, but I just wanted to share my thoughts.

Dec 2, 2020 - 10:54pm

i am fluent in german , french , English , Italian and Spanish   and also know a bit of Japanese and  have conversational proficiency in mandarin so don't think language will be a barrier

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Jul 11, 2017 - 3:26pm

Something that always interests me about other regions is the culture of rent vs. own. Is Frankfurt a renter's market? If you have lived there for so long and plan to continue why would you consider not buying a property? I lived in Germany when I was younger (US military child) and love it there.

Jul 13, 2017 - 3:42am

Compared to the US, metropolitan Germany is definitely a renters market (not an expert on the US housing markets but have spent some time there and people my age were a lot more concerned about property than I am). In some Cities like Berlin majority of residential property is owned by ~ 6 people/companies - Frankfurt is not as bad but the market currently consists of upscale city penthouses.
I have no idea what the future holds for me therefore I am not very eager to put down roots

Jul 13, 2017 - 3:30am

I am interested in learning a bit more about Frankfurt versus London. I have never been to Frankfurt, so I can't speak to its qualities, but Berlin is great. How is compensation in Frankfurt versus, say, London? What does a decent two-bedroom apartment cost to rent per month in a nice part of the city? How's the nightlife? And most importantly, do you need to be able to speak German to live and work there comfortably?

I think the latter point is pretty important. I've had some headhunters calling recently about positions in Frankfurt, and I'm wondering if it's worth considering a move. I think that puts me in the same bucket as a lot of financiers from London who can't speak more than 10 words of German.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Jul 13, 2017 - 4:03am

I answered the German speaking questions above

lrbd:

If you ask me: No
Germans and most other Europeans start learning English when they are 11 (5th Grade) therefore communication as an American/Brit is no problem at all.
I'd like to think that in contrast to Paris (I did an internship in Paris) one could live and work in Frankfurt without having to learn the language if not an absolute necessity for the individuals position.
We have many non-German speakers in Trading, sales and IBD positions and the overall office language is English.

Comp in Frankfurt is below London in most cases I'd say but given the cost of living is SO MUCH lower it is definitely worth considering.

50-70m², 2 br apartment 10 mins from your office maybe 800 - 1000€/month (depending on parking spot, balcony, elevator etc) i'd say.

Nightlife: I like it - some good clubs, many nice bars and especially all the open air/rooftop events happening during summer but of course London is a very high bar to compare against (0,5l Beers only cost 4€ though)

Jul 13, 2017 - 12:40pm

Frankly speaking in terms of nightlife and leisure Frankfurt is not even comparable to London, but it is a ton cheaper. Inequality is another issue (e.g. every morning near the train station you can see a crowd of bankers passing by homeless junkies). But there are nicer suburbs in the area which are perfect for a comfortable life with a family. And travelling is really easy thanks to Deutsche Bahn. Don't worry about the language, I am actually studying in Germany at the moment and strugling to learn it because it's too easy to speak English, virtually everybody knows it and Germans are willing to speak English even if there is only one non-german speaker present. To explore the housing market you can use immonet.de

Jul 13, 2017 - 4:21am

FSFM Alumni myself so slightly biased - The master degrees are very well regarded (e.g. financial times ranking).
The uni has really good ties into the Frankfurt banking sector giving you a lot of internship and working student opportunities which is a very big plus. It's ridiculously expensive for German standards though...

Jul 13, 2017 - 5:32am

In my humble opinion Frankfurt school is not worth the money if you want to work in Germany since the reputation of the university doesn't matter that much in Germany. If you've graduated from a decent school with top grades and good internships you may still be able to get into IB/Consulting.

Jul 13, 2017 - 7:40am

Banking doesn't carry the same amount of prestige in Germany as in the UK or the US. Germans love their "bread and butter" industries like automotive and industrial goods so working at such a company or consulting or even auditing is on par or even better regarded,

Jul 13, 2017 - 9:02am

Work at a BB's capital markets team in London, but mainly cover Germany/Austria. Other than frequently travelling to Germany, have lived in Frankfurt as well as in most other bigger German cities myself.

Here is my view:
First off, prefer London simply because it literally never gets boring. There is something for everyone's taste in terms of bars, restaurants, clubs and my bank's EMEA HQ is here so it's a big international working environment in an already huge international city. Don't get me wrong, London is far from perfect...sometimes it feels like a big dirty concrete jungle and it's hard to keep up with friends outside of your postcode.

The thing with Frankfurt is that its full of mostly Germans and the general atmosphere/culture is different. In the two banks I've worked at in Frankfurt, there was a disconnect between juniors and seniors, whereby seniors often didn't really care about the overall well-being of the Analysts to VPs. You will be worked to the bones as a junior in a BB's M&A/country coverage team, but perhaps this is your thing and can be awarding at the end of the day. The deal flow is high in Germany, the teams smaller and the work produced (from pitchbooks to RFPs) is really good…people seem to genuinely care and don't present half-baked work.

Not being able to speak German is not an issue whatsoever...plenty of expats and nearly everyone is fluent in English. But it is a lot of work hard, and work harder (as opposed to play hard). People don't go out that often and you don't really do afterhour drinks with the colleagues. The place feels dull at times...it's a relatively small city and despite the "banking district" being near the central station, which is your go-to hub for brothels and substance abuse, you only really see drones in suites running around during the day. During the night, everyone buggers off to their homes/outer districts in Frankfurt...

That said, Frankfurt is great if you want to have a "metropole" feel, but work in smaller teams. It is also a lot better from a cost/quality ratio...the German standard of life is very high and things are more "social" than in stinky London. Frankfurt is not Munich in terms of quality of life and is not Berlin in terms of fun, but has a solid combination and ticks most other boxes such as high quality, yet affordable, living expenses/rent costs/commutes times/school fees/ etc. paired with solid salary levels and high job security (harder to fire someone with every year the person's been with the company).

Tldr: Frankfurt is great if you like a more boring environment and/or have family with kids. Perhaps Brexit will make it more anglo-saxonized, but that will have its pros & cons too.

Jul 14, 2017 - 3:34am

Thank you for your post man, is what I looked for, about Frankfurt.

I have two interviews in two investment banking boutique (M&A) in Frankfurt. Lived in London and going to live in France for 4 months. Advice? I'm not a German speaker.

Tbh, the Frankfurt experience makes me excited about, I went to the city 4 years ago and looks the most US city in Eu with London (given skyscrapers etc.) - called Mainhattan.

If everything will be good, look forward to meeting you all!

Jul 18, 2017 - 3:52am

News surfaced today that Citigroup will move some of its trading ops to Frankfurt as well. Equity and interest rate derivatives trading by the looks of it
150-250 employees joining the 350 already located in Frankfurt (possibly a mix of moving and hiring locally).

Jul 18, 2017 - 5:11am
lrbd:

News surfaced today that Citigroup will move some of its trading ops to Frankfurt as well. Equity and interest rate derivatives trading by the looks of it
150-250 employees joining the 350 already located in Frankfurt (possibly a mix of moving and hiring locally).

With keeping the below mentionted reasons in mind, Frankfurt as a clear edge over Dublin or Paris.

"BaFin, the German regulator that's seen by many as the only regulator outside of London capable of handling the banks' complicated derivatives business, about moving some of its London-based equity and interest-rate derivatives traders to Frankfurt." ... "Frankfurt is a natural pick for many international firms given a financial ecosystem featuring Deutsche Bank AG, the ECB and BaFin."

Aug 2, 2017 - 9:20am

Two days ago The Federal Republic of Germany submitted a bid to make Frankfurt the next seat of the European Banking Authority.

I can not include the link for some reason, but you can simple google "Ready to host the EBA"

Jan 2, 2018 - 7:59am
Hotstepper777:

Two days ago The Federal Republic of Germany submitted a bid to make Frankfurt the next seat of the European Banking Authority.

I can not include the link for some reason, but you can simple google "Ready to host the EBA"

They lost. EBA will move to Amsterdam.

Jan 2, 2018 - 8:00am

Investment Banking in Frankfurt,Germany (Originally Posted: 02/04/2015)

Hi All,

Does anyone know anything about JP Morgan interview/Assessment Center in Frankfurt, Germany? (IB in M&A/corporate finance summer internship)

I am interested if the case study and the interviews are in English or German?

And the case study supposed to be solved in teams or individually with a partner or interviewer? In my email they said, it is gonna be discussed with a banker.

Many thanks

  • 1
Jan 2, 2018 - 8:02am

If some one on here has any suggestions about financing self storage in Germany ????
I would love to hear your comments as i am looking for some financing 50% LTV
thank you and may we all win

Jan 2, 2018 - 8:05am

Networks
If you want to join or put on a WSO Meetup, please contact AndyLouis .
As for other networks, the open-to-join expat network InterNations is quite well established and has frequent events. If you're a Charterholder, the CFA Society holds a lecture or a get-together almost every months.

Events
Soccer team Eintracht Frankfurt plays in the German premier league, tickets are affordable. Likewise for Fraport Skyliners in basketball.
Throughout the year (mostly summer), the various neighbourhoods and suburbs have street festivals. I recommend to subscribe to "Feste und Events in Frankfurt" on Facebook, they publish all the public events, festivals and the like.

If you're American and miss engaging in sports, Frankfurt actually has football and lacrosse teams.

PM me if you need more.

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