Brexit a boon for Berlin's fintech talent pool

BERLIN (Reuters) - Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has spurred a surge in the number of financial service industry workers now based in the UK applying to work in Berlin’s burgeoning fintech scene, several of the city’s start-ups told Reuters.

The German capital is jostling to position itself as a hub for the financial technology - fintech - industry and is home to some 70 companies, more than double the number in Frankfurt, the country’s traditional financial centre.

Employers say it is easier to lure bankers to Berlin than to get techies to move to Frankfurt, with potential talent attracted by affordable living, shorter commutes and the widespread use of English.

“We’ve had more than 50 senior applications coming from London in the past six weeks,” Ramin Niroumand, co-founder and managing partner at fintech company builder FinLeap, said.

Around 70 percent of those applicants had a background in financial services, FinLeap said, adding it had invited 20 to interview so far and offered five a job.

FinLeap, which has launched nine fintech start-ups over the past two years including online insurance broker Clark and Savedo, a marketplace for investment products, said it typically receives around 800 applications per month.

Berlin had a fintech workforce of around 13,000 in 2015, around a fifth of the size of the UK sector which employed 61,000 people, according to Ernst and Young.

One in eight jobs in the German capital is created by the digital sector, according to Berlin’s Economics Senator Cornelia Yzer who has been actively campaigning in London for British start-ups to move.

Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23 - a decision economists said could tip the bloc’s second largest economy into recession but which has so far had a tamer immediate impact on consumers than many had predicted.

Toby Triebel, chief executive and co-founder of Spotcap, an online lending platform for small businesses, said the number of applicants from Britain had doubled to around 20 percent since the Brexit vote, with many coming from the finance sector.

Many are younger people with one to two years’ experience working at a start-up or in London’s fintech sector who are unnerved by the current situation, Spotcap said, adding it had also received some unsolicited applications from very senior banking applicants.

It was not immediately clear if the applications were from Britons or from other nationalities living in Britain.

Prior to the Brexit decision, Friendsurance, an online peer-to-peer insurance platform, had not had many applications from Britain. But it said the number of British applicants more than doubled in July and August, mainly for IT positions.

Reporting by Caroline Copley