The View from Berkeley Square – The Property Chronicle
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The View from Berkeley Square Robert Fowlds, one of the City's biggest real estate rainmakers, looks at Brexit and the global real estate listed markets from his perch high above Berkeley Square

Investor's Notebook

Skyscraper viewed from street level

The West End has been a joy to drive around this Easter as half of London (and most of the property industry) has been away! As well as being able to secure reservations in some fine restaurants, it has also provided some time to reflect…

On Brexit

I get asked every day what the major investment banks are doing. Well, it’s clear that Plan B is now Plan A, and the major banks will relocate a percentage of senior staff (well, enough to appease the regulators) of their EU related business to Paris or Frankfurt (with some back office to Dublin). Paris is winning given the proximity to London and, more importantly, a labour market big enough to service the larger banks with quality support staff – most European cities fall way short of the scale of labour market to match London or Paris. But the short term winner is New York where the investment banks are expanding once again having contracted by on average c.30% post-Lehman (from 45msf to 32msf in Manhattan, equivalent to 30,000 NY job losses between 2009-2015). Debt, derivative and FX markets can move rapidly, and listening to the US REIT calls in recent weeks tells me New York is winning and it’s not just the Trump factor! The biggest threat to investment banking, however, is the global trend of lower margin and the need to improve efficiency. The biggest winners will be Mumbai and Shanghai, and the UK and Europe as a whole will be poorer other than from the growth in IB boutiques from few (the very few) investment bankers who can add value. Brexit gives the larger US investment banks the excuse to make these long term structural changes.

Investor's Notebook

About Robert Fowlds

Robert Fowlds

Robert Fowlds retired from investment banking in 2015 as Head of Real Estate Investment Banking for JP Morgan Cazenove. In 10 years Robert led or co-led around 60 public market transactions including IPOs, equity raises and M&A. Prior to corporate finance, Robert was Co-Head of Real Estate Equity Research at Merrill Lynch, and previously Kleinwort Benson, where his team was #1 ranked in the Extel and Institutional Investor Surveys for 11 years. Robert's early career was as a chartered surveyor.

Articles by Robert Fowlds

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