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UBS is sucking up fixed income salespeople and traders. Again

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It’s all happening at UBS, again. Almost exactly two years after UBS announced its decision to embark upon a ‘Strategic acceleration from a position of strength’ (AKA to make thousands of its fixed income currencies and commodities (FICC) staff redundant), the Swiss bank is hiring FICC people back again. And it seems to be doing so in quite large numbers.

In the past month, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register reveals that UBS has registered all sorts of fixed income people from all sorts of rival banks. Among them are: Max Lintott, a credit salesman who came from RBS in September, James Chae, an inflation trader who joined from Deutsche Bank in late September, Pierre Vermaak, a head of e-trading and credit quants who came from Barclays in July, George Johns, a director in rates sales who joined from Morgan Stanley in September and John Wraith, ex-head of rates strategy at BAML, who also joined in September.

What’s going on? UBS didn’t immediately respond to our request to comment. However, Tom Naratil, UBS’s CFO has said publicly that the bank has no intention of changing its strategy and insiders insist that there’s honestly no big fixed income build out happening at the Swiss bank.

One fixed income headhunter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said UBS is merely trying to fill all the gaps that have been left by people leaving since it announced its strategic shift. “They handled the redundancies quite badly, people got pretty disillusioned and left. They have gaps to fill.”

In the past, UBS has had a reputation for not paying well, especially at bonus time. However, this is changing. In the first half of this year, pay per head for investment bankers at UBS averaged CHF198k, up 7% on the CHF185k it accrued last year and 25% more than the CHF158k accrued at Credit Suisse’s struggling investment bank.  “UBS actually pay quite well now,” says the headhunter. “The changes they’ve made to their fixed income business have made it far more profitable – it’s leaner, but when they place trades they’re actually making money.”

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