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Nomura will cut jobs in Asia: Hong Kong, not Singapore, will likely bear the brunt

Impending job losses at Nomura will hit its overseas operations, particularly equities and investment banking, with Asia taking its share of the cuts.

It’s expected that Japan’s largest brokerage will suffer considerable redundancies at its European operation, which sustained US$970m in losses over the past year. However, Asia ex-Japan, isn’t likely to escape unscathed.

A Hong Kong recruiter, who asked not to be named, says: “I’ve heard that the deepest cuts will be in the UK, but Hong Kong won’t be immune either.” He says there has been steady attrition at Nomura in Hong Kong over the past six months, thanks to deferred bonus schemes, various claw-back measures and stock payouts, which have prompted some to move on. Those in cash equities, equities derivatives and proprietary trading will be especially vulnerable to redundancies, he adds.

Another anonymous recruiter adds that job losses are expected to be extensive, with equity-focused Hong Kong hit harder than Singapore. “I think it’s a similar situation to some of the other Japanese firms operating in Asia. Daiwa has recently cut people in ECM, while Mitsubishi UFJ is refocusing on its core practices in its domestic market.”

Go Chinese, or look outside of banking

Warwick Pearmund, executive director, head of banking and financial services, Asia Executive Talents Group, says redundant i-bankers don’t have as many options as before. “Some Chinese and regional banks are looking to beef up, but given the mainland focus, non-Mandarin speakers will find it tough.”

Pearmund says more i-bankers are looking outside of banking for their next move. Those with strong relationship skills may be sought after at the rating agencies for instance.

The PE route

John Mullally, associate director, financial services, Robert Walters, adds: “It all depends which area of investment banking these bankers come from and also what level they’re at. “

While many of redundant i-bankers are looking for opportunities on the buy-side, either in private equity or hedge funds, it may not be the most viable choice. “This is not a realistic move for many, especially if they are at the more senior level and have spent their entire career within investment banking. Some analysts and associates get roles within buy-side firms, but these are only the select few.”

The corporate finance way

Another potential avenue? Some M&A bankers have been hired in corporate finance and development jobs within local corporates and multinationals. Mullally says: “These roles allow them to leverage off their M&A deal experience and offer more job stability and better work-life balance in most cases.”

If you’ve been let go, here are some pointers from Mullally:

  • Do your homework: find out where friends, colleagues and acquaintances in similar situations have moved to.
  • Don’t wait: It’s best to utilise your network now as much as possible rather than wait until Q1 when there are even more candidates on the market.
  • Don’t be a wallflower: Don’t turn down any meeting and keep an open mind when it comes to some of the smaller, so-called second- and third-tier houses.

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