Derivatives exodus

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Australia's derivatives professionals have gone elsewhere in search of lucre.

"There's an incredible shortage of people in derivatives, especially for people with high quantitative skills," Rob Douglass, principal consultant at Cambridge Consulting, tells us. "And the problem doesn't look like it's going to get any better because banks here can't pay as well as in the UK."

More and more independent Australian firms are setting up equity options trading platforms for Asia-Pacific bourses in Sydney, driving demand for derivatives market-makers.

Michael Markiewicz, chief executive officer of Carmichael Fisher recruiters in Sydney, says Sydney is increasingly emerging as a business centre in the Asia-Pacific region, "which is why there is such a high demand for professionals."

A derivatives pro with five years' experience can expect to earn AU$150,000 to AU$180,000 in Sydney with a bonus attached to performance. A similarly qualified person working in the City of London could command total comp of up to AU$800,000.

But while Sydney derivatives pay may not exactly be on a par with London, the consensus is that it's on the way up.

And as for that little AU$600,000 (or so) between pay in London? Recruiters say Sydney has other things to offer. "People talk about the sunshine tax over here," says Douglass. ""It means you give up the extra money for some sunshine."

"Things really only come down to the issue of time-zone these days for derivatives trading," says one recruitment specialist in Sydney. "As long as you're in the region, you can trade the Hang Seng, you can trade the Nikkei. And I have a lot of people who would rather live in Sydney than Hong Kong or Tokyo."

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