Goldman Sachs is moving a string of UK bankers to Frankfurt in what sources say could be seen as a "dry run" for the first Brexit-related moves by the Wall Street lender.
Plans are in motion to relocate around half a dozen investment banking staff - most of whom are involved in debt capital markets - to the German financial centre within the coming months, the Press Association understands.
It is part of a larger global strategy by Goldman Sachs to bring employees closer to clients, and follows an internal announcement last month regarding the relocation of Jens Hofmann, managing director of Goldman's financing team, and whose coverage focuses on Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Further moves will see bankers relocate to other Goldman offices - likely to include Stockholm and Madrid.
While the shifting of UK staff to Frankfurt is not in direct response to Brexit, a source with knowledge of Goldman's European strategy suggested that the process will be closely monitored in light of the EU divorce and seen as a "trial run for more to come".
"It is clear that some of these moves are becoming part of a bigger scheme, and while Goldman's offices are not yet ready, it is obvious that these people moving (can be seen as) the first dry run."
Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
The news comes as UK Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered a speech that made the case for preferential access for Britain's financial services industry to the EU single market.
But Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said on Wednesday that Brussels was hoping for a free trade agreement that would scrap tariffs on goods, but provide limited access for services after Brexit.
Without an agreement for financial services, firms are expected to start shifting staff and key operations to the EU - although the timing of such moves could be slowed if Britain is able to strike a transition deal in the coming months.
Goldman Sachs - which employs 6,500 UK staff - is set to at least double its Frankfurt office to 400 staff through a mix of relocations and local hires and has also signed a lease on a yet-to-be built skyscraper that can house up to 800 employees with options to take up additional space.
Paris - where Goldman currently employs around 150 staff - will serve as a dual hub alongside Frankfurt, with additional moves made to offices including Milan, Madrid, Stockholm and Dublin.
The bank's management has not shied away from commenting on Brexit, with chief executive Lloyd Blankfein taking to Twitter last year to express worries over continued uncertainty.
In October, the banking boss tweeted: "In London. GS still investing in our big new Euro headquarters here. Expecting/hoping to fill it up, but so much outside our control. #Brexit"
It followed an earlier tweet where he detailed a recent trip to Frankfurt, saying he would be "spending a lot more time there".
#Brexit decision belongs to UK citizens, and I'm not one. But GS built its Euro biz in the UK on certain assumptions, pays taxes and employs thousands of UK citizens concerned about the economy and their futures. On their behalf, at least, I have to be interested in the outcome. https://t.co/CteE8Kjayo— Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein) December 17, 2017
- Press Association