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Is Jefferies actually the best bank to work for if you’re a trader?

Jefferies has just reported its Q2 results. As always, it’s reporting before other banks. And as ever in recent times, the results don’t look too hopeful if you work in fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC) sales and trading.

FICC revenues at Jefferies fell 29% year-on-year in the three months to May 31. Worse, they’re down 45% year-on-year since January.

The strong start to the year in fixed income didn’t last.

Jefferies weak results shouldn’t dissuade anyone from joining, however. Recruiters in London say it offers some of the best packages to new trading hires. “If they like you, they will offer you a percentage deal based on 10% of the net profits you make,” says one, speaking off the record. “At Jefferies you can get a deal based on the profitability of the desk after capital charges have been deducted,” claims another.

This is in sharp contrast to big banks, which shy away from percentage deals and pay discretionary bonuses capped at 200% of salary.

Jefferies also allocates an unusually high proportion of its revenues to employees. In the first half, the compensation ratio at the bank was 61.2%, while rival US banks typically pay employees 40% or less. Pay looks pretty good too. Average pay per head at the bank was $221k in the first half. This was down 8% on last year, but isn’t bad when you consider that Goldman paid $378k for the whole of last year….

Best of all, Jefferies has been hiring. Recruitment this year includes sales traders from Barclays, high yield traders in LA, and Robert Allard, a former head of sales trading at Credit Suisse who went on leave following an investigation into behaviour on his desk.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Jefferies pays cash bonuses – which you get to keep, as long as you stay for a full year after they were awarded.

Recruiters say that smaller banks [like Jefferies] often pay more in the early stages of a trader’s career, but that bigger firms are more likely to pay well as you become more senior. “Sometimes you have to sacrifice pay earlier in your career at a large bank, but as you become more senior the rewards increase exponentially,” says Kumaran Surenthirathas, head of front office recruitment at Eximius Group.

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