Warning as banks misjudge the Frankfurt hiring market

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As Brexit approaches, it seems that banks' European recruiters, who are mostly still based in London, have overlooked a few things about the German hiring market. Recruiting in Frankfurt is not easy.  Their omissions are leading to concern that hiring won't happen in time.

"Many more new hires need to be made on the open market," says Thore Behrens, a headhunter at Banking Consult in Frankfurt. Despite the time pressure, Behrens says London-based personnel departments seem to be taking it easy. "I do not understand it at all.... Many just do not understand that it's not so easy to find staff here."

At the root of the problem is Germany's odd protocol for leaving an existing job. German employment contracts stipulate that financial services employees have three month notice periods starting from the end of the nearest quarter. In some cases, notice periods are as long as six months. Behrens says the whole thing adds a complexity that British-based recruiters aren't used to. "Most bankers in Frankfurt have a three-month notice period to the end of the quarter," he says, noting that people who resign at the end of December won't be able to start until the 1st of April. And if banks miss the December resignation slot, they will next be able to add staff in Frankfurt on...July 1st.

In the circumstances, speed is of the essence and among those who know the German market, the lack of urgency is astonishing.

Mike Boetticher from headhunters Match in Frankfurt says London-based recruitment managers seem to presume that Frankfurt is similar to the City. "They first have to experience that everything is more complicated here and notice periods are longer and the willingness to move is lower," says Boetticher. "They say: In one week I'll be in Frankfurt, it would be nice if we could meet one or two candidates." Frankfurt isn't like that.

Thomas von Ciriacy-Wantrup, a partner at recruitment firm Fricke Finance & Legal, says it's not just a matter of notice periods: "We already participated in a call to which a bank invited three different recruitment consultants," says Ciriacy-Wantrup. "This would never happen in Germany. It violates the usual confidentiality principles."

Even without German foibles, Frankfurt recruiters say that finding enough risk and regulation experts to satisfy BaFin by March 29th will be difficult. "Everyone is looking for the same profiles with the same experience," says Ciriacy-Wantrup. "The domestic banks are also looking for these profiles. BaFin has just ordered German banks to expand their internal audit teams."

Demand is such that Ciriacy-Wantrup says banks that want to fill positions soon are having to offer big pay rises to secure staff. There are tales of compliance professionals with three years' experience being offered €90k plus a bonus, something previously unthinkable in Frankfurt. "The banks are willing to pay such salaries just to get the necessary staff," Ciriacy-Wantrup says.

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