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Is bad news good for equity strategists?

Fluctuating stockmarkets might be fortuitous for equity strategists, who advise traders on the future direction of the market. But their star – in terms of jobs and pay – hasn’t risen yet.

Edmund Gill, executive business director at recruiter Hays, says there is always demand for strategists, and the recent gyrations of global stock markets haven’t made much difference. “Everyone’s looking for direction – there is so much hunger for future drivers that these people are always in demand and the global shift to equities from debt magnifies that.”

But Martin Duncan, equity strategist at JP Morgan, says demand for strategists hasn’t risen noticeably and banks are not seeking to hire more, but he admits that there might be a bit more pressure than normal for performance. “The pressure comes from the client and is always there.”

It may be early days, but as yet there’s been no flood of ads for plum strategist jobs, either. Gill says strategist salaries have not leapt, but that they vary so enormously it’s hard to judge. Strategists are very senior bankers and get paid very senior banking salaries – millions – often multiplied by bonuses and incentives.

The problems of the past few weeks may also prove a transitory affair – Australia’s stock market has already bounced back, thanks largely to commodities stocks.

It’s perverse that China, which was partially responsible for the market plummeting, is equally responsible for Australia’s resilience, buying commodities without pause even as it tightened its business regime. Duncan says Australia’s coincidental strong reporting season buoyed the market. Thank you, China – or not, as far as strategists are concerned.

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