Oz is not it in FX

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If foreign trading is your thing, then forget about Australia for now, unless you plan a stopover on the way to Singapore or Hong Kong.

Oz will never be a great place to develop an FX career, for the simple reason that time zones put Australia out of kilter with the trading hours of the G7 currencies.

For the Pacific time zone, the main FX trades are Asian and New Zealand, and there is a hot AU$/NZ$ trade. Interest rate differences between Japan and Australia also mean there is a strong flow of yen into the AU$, but there are not yet massive volumes of AU$/yuan or AU$/rupee trades. But watch this space.

Not very many trades equal not very many jobs. Caan Krsztew-Ivanow at recruiter Graeme Jones and Associates says the area is distinctly short of hiring action: "People are not moving on; they're all settled and happy,'' although he notes that several companies have set up AU$/NZ$ FX desks which have done sufficiently well to move into other currencies.

Salaries, he says, are about AU$150k base with bonuses ranging from multiples at Goldman Sachs to 100% at other investment banks. "They make their money from their trades."

Lee Rochester at recruiter Futurestep says many global banks in Sydney are relocating traders into their Asian offices. "Where banks here might be looking for one or two traders, Asian offices are hiring whole teams, and some of that demand is spilling back here. Returning expats are our best hope,'' he says.

But the story could soon change. The Australian dollar is now the sixth-most traded currency and is slowly separating itself from the US dollar. Krsztew-Ivanow says, "It's starting to stand on its own feet, it's evolving."

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