France plans to lure 'thousands' of UK fintech jobs, says minister

Hannah Boland
The lobby group Paris Europlace now estimates that around 3,500 finance and banking jobs will move to Paris once the UK exits the European Union - Charles Platiau
The lobby group Paris Europlace now estimates that around 3,500 finance and banking jobs will move to Paris once the UK exits the European Union - Charles Platiau

France is seeking to lure thousands of UK financial technology jobs to the country, doubling down on its charm offensive with a new host of benefits for companies willing to relocate to Paris. 

The French junior economy and finance minister, Delphine Gény-Stephann, today launched a project by government-backed tech incubator Swave, to recruit a new cohort of 20 financial technology startups which it will seek to bring to market.

The incubator, which is part of a wider effort by President Emmanuel Macron to turn France into a "start-up nation", offers companies support with funding and strategies, and also offers foreign companies "relocation packages". 

"They're important actors in the ecosystem, and we're very happy to see this innovation... developing in France," Ms Gény-Stephann told The Daily Telegraph. 

"We know that after Brexit the financial services sector will not operate in the same way. There will be some adjustments and the way countries compare to one another is of course a key element in the decision-making for the companies.

"What we do is we assess our context, our regulations, what we offer in terms of life and ease of doing business and we are answering the concerns of the players," she added. 

France is hardly a laggard when it comes to high technology and is already among the world leaders in research into artificial intelligence. The French government has pledged to pump €2bn (£1.7bn) into the sector, and the nation's world-leading expertise in the area has prompted Google and Facebook to set up labs in the country. 

However, it has faced a tougher battle in financial technology and has struggled to retain talent in the field. Swave's Eduoard Plus said many young people interested in fintech had moved to Silicon Valley or elsewhere to start businesses - a key reason the incubator was established. 

France has "really put competitive[ness] and attractiveness at the centre of its economic reform agenda" over the past year, Ms Gény-Stephann said, with a string of measures designed to slash red tape for companies and make the visa process easier. 

One such measure was approved last week, enabling the French financial regulator to issue permits for companies seeking to raise funds through initial coin offerings.

In light of the efforts to tempt businesses to France, the lobby group Paris Europlace now estimates that around 3,500 finance and banking jobs will move to Paris once the UK exits the European Union. A recent Reuters survey also put Paris ahead of Frankfurt as the most popular destination for financial jobs. 

France's steps to simplify the framework of its own laws and attract tech talent has, however, raised some eyebrows, given the country has, at the same time, been lobbying for a digital tax across Europe.

The tax would see European states implement a levy on the digital revenue of giants such as Amazon and Facebook.

France's finance minister Bruno Le Maire has been a firm supporter of the proposed tax and earlier this month suggested a "sunset clause" could be introduced, ensuring the tax was only temporary, in a bid to win backing from opposing countries such as Ireland.