A brain drain from London: the effects of Brexit for Executive Search

On 23 June the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. Initially a shock for the business world but now a reality. Most of us are coming to grips with this new reality. With the Brexit, free trade and movement of goods and people will be up for discussion and new agreements with the EU will have to be settled.

Furthermore, it was reported that many Europeans working and living in London felt suddenly not welcome in the UK.

Just after the collapse of the Greek and Portuguese economies a few years back, we at Kennedy Executive Search & Consulting have seen tremendous interest of bright, highly educated individuals to move to the north of Europe. We have been receiving CVs from professionals with excellent high skilled backgrounds not only from these countries, but suddenly also from the UK – in particular from London.

Here at Kennedy Executive Search, we have been astonished how fast highly qualified candidates in London sent us their CVs. London has been the financial capital for many decades and this will not change overnight. However, we are encountering people not waiting for the future. We are receiving applications almost every day since the referendum. Why are people leaving and what are they stating? Here are a few real quotes of the past week:

  • “In light of the recent Brexit vote here in the UK, I would be very interested in finding out more on the current state of the job market in Paris.”
  • “I do feel less welcome in this country now. And I’m not sure if I even want to live in a country filled with so many not-that-bright people.”
  • “Due to Brexit and sudden drop in earnings, non UK citizens are being told to find a new role outside of the organization.”
  • “Being German and due to the Brexit results, after 13 years in London I am actively seeking opportunities to move back to Europe.“


We have been stunned – not only by the amount of applications (25 applications in Amsterdam from London alone) but also the reasons why people want to leave. The UK has not been hit by a sudden economic collapse. After having spoken to various candidates from the UK these are the preliminary conclusions:

  • European continental citizens who have real estate are trying to cash their profits before it is too late – they are all anticipating a sudden drop in the housing market.
  • Candidates do not want to wait for the bureaucratic situation due to the new rules and regulations requiring them to stay.
  • The market potential for Europe is much bigger than just the UK – it is easier to reallocate now before the closure of the UK market.
  • Many large corporates have indicated an interest in moving their Headquarters to the continent – in particular to the Netherlands due to excellent tax benefits and the open market.

Parting thoughts and what can we do for you:

Whether you are a UK based corporate company or a high potential candidate wishing to reallocate to the continent, we at Kennedy Executive Search can assist you. With offices covering the European Continent we can aid you in your search, whether this is picking the best location for your office or finding the right talent or employer. Some of our offices report up to 70% of all executive search assignments cross-border. We are dealing with international searches daily and know how to deal with a global approach. We communicate with each other every week and share opportunities and candidates from two continents and roughly 30 countries we have run searches in in the past.

Check out the Kennedy office next to you and let’s discuss.