Amsterdam: the new London after Brexit?
Joy Lo Dico

Perhaps not best suited to the main argument, but there is one drawback to Amsterdam attracting bankers and other major companies that deserves a mention. Apparently, it’s a major one: regulation of bonus payments.

In their efforts to promote collective wellbeing over individual exceptionality, Dutch politicians wisely chose the 2008 Financial Crisis as the moment to attack bonus payouts to professionals, especially executives. This attempt to attack “grab culture” (the wealthy maintaining and expanding their wealth by paying themselves handsomely for their work, shoddy or otherwise in quality) led to laws being passed on the level of bonus payments allowed. Bankers cannot earn a bonus of more than 20% on top of their regular wages, and severance packages are limited to one annual salary, with some added limitations.

There are now calls to end, limit or postpone this law, mostly from the liberal right, with considerable support in parliament. The precise aim of those attacking this relatively fresh legislation is exactly this: to lure major companies, who could start drifting after the Brexit decision was made.

Ms. Ollongren and others lobbying for Amsterdam (or Rotterdam, or the Hague, which offer similar benefits to Amsterdam) have on occasion been told that there was “no chance” that major companies would put their EU headquarters in the Netherlands if that meant that they would have to downgrade their manager’s payment structures. As some would see it, the bankers won’t go to the place that is best for the bank, if it isn’t the best for them personally. Whether or not that idea is sound business or an exact example of that “grab culture” the Dutch were trying to defuse is a matter for debate. It all hinges on whether companies in the Netherlands can offer enough to lure and keep talent, or see talent fleeing towards the money of the Anglo-American culture.