Investment bankers would now prefer to work in Singapore instead of London. Unfortunately, they may be in for a shock

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London, it seems, is no longer the place to be for investment bankers. Banker bashing, bonus clampdowns and heavy redundancy announcements have finally taken their toll. They now want to move to Singapore, where the weather’s always warm and they even get a chance to watch a Formula 1 race.

This is according to a survey of 462 UK-based investment bankers released this morning by recruiters Astbury Marsden, which is receiving a lot of attention. Now, 32% want to work in Singapore, 20% want to go to New York and just 19% would prefer to stay in London.

London’s not too far ahead of other regional financial centres, with 16% saying they wanted to work in Hong Kong and 15% in Dubai.

“A fast growing, low tax and bank friendly environment like Singapore stands as a perfect antidote to the comparatively high tax and anti-banker sentiment of London and New York,” said Mark Cameron, chief operating officer at Astbury Marsden.

There are a couple of problems to this theory, however. Yes, as we mentioned last week, recruiters are encouraging more London-based investment bankers to apply to Asia, but this is for roles in more developing centres like Seoul and Shanghai, rather than Singapore.

The main issue, however, is that investment banks there are likely to cut their front office staff at a faster rate than centres in EMEA and the US going forward. The half yearly review of the investment banking sector released late last week by analytics firm Coalition said there would be more cuts in revenue-generating positions, but suggested that Asia is where they would happen.

“Regionally, greater headcount reduction is more likely in APAC as EMEA and Americas had the most aggressive cuts in 2011,” it said.

These cuts are likely to occur within international investment banks, and which are keener than regional players to recruit expats. Banks in APAC are also being just as exacting with their recruitment processes as banks in the UK, with only 100% fit candidates being considered.

If you do get a job in either, it’s more likely to be because of your connections – moving from London to Singapore without good relationships locally, or at least a good understanding of the regional market, is unlikely to be an easy transition these days. The same can be said for moving to the Middle East.

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