Last year it was the turn of Europe, before that it was the US. This year, it looks like Asia will be the focus of banks seeking to build a global presence in prime brokerage.
Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley transferred two senior executives from New York to Hong Kong to boost its Asia prime brokerage operation. Executive search consultants say other banks are set to do the same.
"Prime brokerage is growing in Asia, with all firms expanding," says Andrew Britton at search firm Options Group in Hong Kong. "A lot of talent is moving in from London and the US."
Recruiters say the major prime brokerage players such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS, are seeking to expand their Asian presence, as are newer entrants such as Barclays Capital. As at Morgan Stanley, talent is being moved internally, but they are also making external hires.
"Many banks have imported the right skill set by hiring or transferring employees from outside the region," says Rachel Stewart, a consultant at search firm Global Sage in London. "The major demand is for people who can get clients on board - banks are looking for senior sales people, who can cross-sell the banks' broader offerings, particularly financing products and electronic execution capability."