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Where to next for Singapore’s hard commodity traders?

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Regional banks, Asian commodity firms and derivatives operations are mopping up newly unemployed physical commodities traders who have been left without jobs after the big international banks starting exiting the business segment.

Trading hard commodities used to be big business for the bulge bracket banks, but with several leaving the arena – Bank of America Merrill Lynch being the latest to join the rush for the exits – a number of front office roles have been made redundant in the respective Singapore units.

Gerard Milligan, strategic account director of Randstad Singapore, says that with rising levies, profits are too thin to warrant the risk of dealing with different jurisdictions and regulations. And, he adds, many of the teams have been retrenched, rather than redeployed into other areas. Some of the Asian banks, he says, have taken on new staff as the banks refocus on core trading activities.

Of the major international banks only Barclays, Citi and Goldman Sachs still have significant presence in physical commodities.

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Chris Mead, regional director at Hays Singapore, says  a number of Tier 1 banks in Singapore are closing or have closed their hard commodities businesses, and restructuring to focus on more core trading initiatives.

 

But newly unemployed traders may not stay that way for long, Mead says.

“There are a number of other avenues for traders who are willing to look slightly outside their comfort zones. Up and coming regional banks still have a demand for commodity traders – in particular the Australian banks. Alternatively, traders could always try to look for a suitable role in commodity trading firms, who continue to grow in Singapore.”

Mead says Chinese trading firms and oil majors are aggressively building their presence in Singapore.  “That could provide another good option for physical traders who are looking for a new role.”

Among the banks and firms hiring front and back office staff for their commodities operations in Singapore are Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, Newedge, Senoko, Lukoil, Primesta, Castleton Commodities, and ANZ.

Mead says Chinese trading firms and oil majors are aggressively building their presence in Singapore.  “That could provide another good option for physical traders who are looking for new roles.”

The other area witnessing strong demand for traders is derivatives. Milligan says clients are calling for derivative traders with solid derivatives product and instrument knowledge.

Among the companies hiring derivatives specialists are JP Morgan, Citi, DBS, Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs.

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