“Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi”
Now that London’s future as financial King of Europe is insecure, the crown princes are scheming. In the post- Brexit era, what will be the next city to replace London? Amsterdam aldermen report Asian companies fleeing across the Channel to find refuge; real estate agents rejoice in the thought of oriental oligarchs buying IJ-bank properties; trust firms prepare their annexes; department stores order extra cargoes of Gucci. Meanwhile Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin do the same.
But which city will be the new City? The candidates have a few characteristics in common: a liberal political climate (more so than Madrid or Milan), moderate taxation of companies, highly skilled personnel abound; quite some rain. Zürich has low taxes, but is not in the EU; Dublin has great nightlife, but only a minor airport; Frankfurt has financial institutions, but is infinitely dull; Paris then… Paris has a president who invented the 75% supertax, which is only super if you love to pay.
We should not only take into account economic considerations. Wasn’t London, after all, a great place to live? Cosmopolitan? Cultural? Classy? Wasn’t it a pleasant place to have board or shareholders’ meetings? Wasn’t smoking a cigar in a Pall Mall gentlemen’s club one of the delights of your directorship? Well – if it was, Frankfurt will be a disappointment, Zürich a disbursement.
Among the four candidates mentioned above, there seems to be only one that never sleeps, accepts euros, boasts world famous museums and concert halls, is ten minutes by train from its international airport, has a UNESCO-listed city center, offers an infamous variety of entertainment… Amsterdam is not really a secret anymore, but it’s certainly well-kept. While big multinationals already have discovered the city, there is an ever-growing list of startups including TomTom, Booking.com and The Next Web. It is foreseeable that this list will grow further.
But don’t take my word for it – I’m partial: I’ve studied, worked and lived here for seven years.