No let-up in demand for M&A juniors

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Forget the credit crunch, pitchbook jockeys are still hot.

Steven Harker, CEO of Morgan Stanley Australia, says, "Junior M&A positions? Yes, we are still all hiring. The value of the market is down, but not the activity."

This time last year, hiring in M&A would hardly have been surprising. Rising M&A activity meant the analysts and associates who devote their time to assembling pitchbooks used to win deals were in big demand. In 2007, for example, Australian M&A volumes doubled to US$406bn (AU$437bn), according to Thomson Financial.

More recently, however, Australia's M&A market has looked like running out of fizz. According to the Business Spectator, January was the slowest month for Aussie M&A for the past two years.

Despite this, recruiters and bankers share Harker's optimism - the market may be slowing, but M&A hiring isn't. Victoria Biggs at JM Search says banks in Australia haven't over-hired in the past few years and there are still gaps to fill.

Sally Kincaid, head of HR at Citi, agrees; "There is no drop off at all, even at that [the junior] level."

Scott Alomes, head of business units HR at Commonwealth Bank Australia, says that if anything, competition for junior banking talent has increased: "So many graduates go overseas that banks always need juniors with some experience."

How much can you earn assembling pitchbooks 10 hours a day? Chris Mamas at recruiter Select Personnel, says the pay's anywhere from AU$80k to AU$120k depending on the firm, with 15-30% bonuses.

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