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Sydney says demand for bankers unabated

Junior bankers in London and New York who are looking for new jobs after receiving disappointing bonuses will be pleased to hear they are highly sought after in Sydney and Melbourne.

Australian recruiters report no let up in the country’s demand for junior M&A bankers. With banks like Morgan Stanley, Babcock & Brown, Rothschild and Citigroup looking to build their presence in Australia, the sector is desperate for talent – particularly when it comes with just a few years’ experience.

John Coles, managing director of search firm Coles Christie & Associates, says demand is strongest for bankers who left university in the previous five years. He traces the trend back to the dotcom bust: “From the 2001 downturn there were three or four years when banks didn’t do much graduate recruiting,” Coles says. “As a result, junior people with that kind of experience just don’t exist.”

Banks in Australia are eager to fill the gap with strong candidates drawn from overseas, say recruiters. But pay in the country remains slightly lower than in the City of London or on Wall Street.

Pay’s not everything

Victoria Biggs, a consultant at Jon Michel Executive Search in Sydney, says third-year associates in the city are paid base salaries of A$170,000 to A$180,000, plus a bonus possibly as high as 200%. Similarly ranked associates at top banks on Wall Street often receive the equivalent of A$400,000 or more.

For some, however, money is not the issue. One associate currently working in Frankfurt and soon to move to Australia says Sydney has become an exciting place to develop a career.

He says: “Australia provides very strong deal flow – more than actual local market size suggests due to cross border activities – and has compelling linkages into high growth Asian economies, plus investment banking seems less commoditised there than in the US market.”

Combined with cost of living and lifestyle advantages, he says this makes Sydney a compelling place to work. Australia’s banks will find their recruitment problems solved if other junior bankers reach the same conclusion.

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