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Headhunters swoop on bankers leaving Lehman

Not all Lehman Brothers bankers in Asia are bothering to stick around to learn their fate. Headhunters in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo are already helping rival banks to snap up talent as Lehman limps into bankruptcy.

James Rushworth, a director at search firm Profile, says Lehman’s woes make its staff a perfect target for search firms. “Any recruiter in Asia who doesn’t work for Lehman will be actively looking at Lehman’s personnel. They are fair game now and recruiters are circling around, putting out the feelers,” he says.

Fabrice Desmarescaux, head of Asia Pacific financial services at Spencer Stuart, adds: “I just placed a senior guy from Lehman Brothers at one of my clients, and this is just the beginning. The challenge is that there are just not many openings for the time being given the overall situation of the financial markets.”

So what type of Lehmanite is most likely to land a new role elsewhere? Andrew Price, director at Global Search Partners Asia, says sales is the most secure job sector. “And even if Lehman does somehow find a buyer, they won’t want to sack the sales force.”

Rushworth agrees: “A sales or sales trader professional with good clients and a strong track record, who was caught up in the Lehman mess by no fault of his own, will still be in demand. Other banks will look to hire middle to senior management from Lehman, but not heads of departments.”

At Lehman’s New York headquarters, some staff started clearing their desks at the weekend (Financial Times). One recruiter, whose clients include Lehman Brothers, describes the mood in Singapore as “grim”, while public holidays on Monday provided temporary relief for bankers in Hong Kong and Tokyo. The firm would not comment on redundancies in Asia.

The bankruptcy news from America comes as a bitter blow to the bank’s Asian operations which have expanded during the last two years. Traditionally focused on Tokyo and Hong Kong, Lehman has been hiring in Singapore recently in equity research, FX, commodities, derivatives and fixed income. These new recruits might now be wondering why they boarded a sinking ship.

Comments (3)

Comments
  1. Hopefully, when they move to the next job, the Lehman/Bear Stearnes/etc people will share their lessons learnt — how do risk managers for instance, work? How / why do they approve all these structures?
    What is the role of risk managers vis a vis the marketing / traders in these investment banks? There must be soul searching, among risk managers, traders and marketing teams?

    signed off
    well wisher

  2. Yeah…take over the same guys to make the same mistakes at other banks.

  3. Aww…don’t blame these guys. I’m sure nobody wants to lose their jobs like that. The loss is indeed unfortunate. Besides, there are so many other factors involved in the downfall of these investment banks along with the volatility of the stock markets and herd mentality. It’s always easy to point fingers after something bad has happened..

    It’ll be a good place to start analysing the driving factors, how Goldman Sachs is managing to keep its head above the water during this period of financial crisis, as well as the current strategies taken to allay further fears and panic.

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