Exile on Wall Street?

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Wall Street is definitely not the flavour of the month at the moment, especially when it comes to investment banking.

It's not really surprising, therefore, that many Australians working in the Big Apple are checking out their job options for fear they may not have a job in the very near future.

According to Adam Gillibrand, Australian-based executive director for US recruitment and consulting firm Options Group, an increasing number of expat bankers on Wall Street are looking to make a move back home, sensing that Australia offers a bit more job security than the big banks of Manhattan.

"There's quite an enclave of Australian bankers in New York - you'd be quite surprised at how many are working there," says Gillibrand. "But in the current economic climate, we're starting to see more wanting to come back."

He says that earlier last year, it was difficult to attract US-based Australian bankers to move back to Sydney. "But come December, the phone just started ringing."

Some Aus banks are going against the flow. Macquarie Bank now has 670 staff working in its New York office, and plans to expand aggressively in the US this year.

New York investment bankers can expect to earn at least 20% more than their equivalent in Australia.

Yet Lee Humphrey, principal of Derwent Executive's investment management practice, says most Australian bankers have traditionally picked London as their first port of choice, followed by Asia.

"They don't often go to America, unless they've gone from a top job here - if they're a senior banker up to CEO level. I find candidates say that it's still quite difficult to get the right working entitlements to America. They have made it a bit easier, but it's an easier play to go to the UK or to Asia to make money."

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