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Barclays bucks the firing trend

Most foreign investment banks have been cutting headcounts in Japan, but Barclays seems set on a staffing expansion, all be it a modest one.

The British bank, which is planning about 4,500 job cuts globally this year across its divisions, announced the addition of 10 staff to its Barclays Capital investment banking team in Tokyo this month, bringing its headcount there to 35. This comes on top of the 100 or so people Barclays snapped up in October to expand its equity research and sales business in Japan and the rest of Asia.

Eiji Nakai, president and chief executive officer of Barclays Capital Japan, says his firm wants to offer a full-service i-banking platform. Hence the decision to keep growing at a time when other banks (and other Barclays offices) are cutting back.

Is Barclays’ latest spurt of growth a signal that investment banking hiring is about to pick up across the industry? Maybe not right now, but there are signs for cautious optimism says Warwick Pearmund, senior consultant for finance sector recruitment at Boyd & Moore.

“Investment banking isn’t initially going to be a growth sector – remember that people have been laid off. But there will be work out there. I was talking to a senior fund manager just recently who, being Japan specific, expects the number of people in the finance industry to be higher at the end of the year than at the beginning,” says Pearmund.

Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have all made substantial cuts to their Japan operations over the last couple of months, but Pearmund says this doesn’t mean they too aren’t on the look out for talent.

“Even when firms are letting people go, it doesn’t mean they aren’t taking people on, though hiring tends to very precisely targeted,” he adds.

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