Among those watching Marcus Agius testify live to the Treasury Select Committee this morning, one group is likely to have attended especially avidly: the ex-Libor traders sitting at home waiting for the FSA to finish its investigation, wondering whether criminal charges will be brought against them and they’ll be extradited to the US. Some of their former supervisors are already said to have engaged criminal defence lawyers in anticipation of just such an outcome.
FX and rates headhunters say there are now around 30 people out of the market altogether.
Some have been sitting about for more than 12 months.Blacklisted by the FSA unless exonerated, they can’t get new jobs. Nor are they, or any of their still-employed colleagues generally willing to discuss their problems: “They’re all working with the FSA and have signed agreements not to talk about it,” says one senior FX headhunter.
The good news is that exoneration does happen. Lloyds suspended FX trader Alexandre Dube and interest rate derivatives trader John Argent in March while it probed their alleged involvement in Libor fixing. Both were reinstated in June.
The bad news is that even if you’ve changed jobs and are happy doing something completely different, you may be hunted down and then suspended in your new position for Libor misdemeanours past .
The sorry story of Schluep and Robson
This is what happened to Christian Schluep and Paul Robson.
The two Mitsubishi traders suspended yesterday were reportedly put on pause while an investigation is launched into activities pre-dating their arrival at Mitsubishi.
Both men previously worked at Rabobank, which is under investigation for Libor fixing. Robson joined Mitsubishi in August 2009. Schluep joined in August 2010. Both have now been registered as inactive with the FSA.
These are often just juniors
One headhunter who says he is in contact with a lot of the unhappy Libor traders (although not Robson or Schluep specifically), says they’re mostly juniors who’ve been treated unfairly.
“I’ve interviewed guys, especially junior guys who say they’d only worked there for 3-5 years and were doing their job,” he says. “Senior management told them to do it. It was the norm.”
Schluep left Durham University in 2001 with a 2.1 in economics, maths and management, suggesting he’s around 32 now. He started working at Rabobank in 2003 and moved to Mitsubishi in 2010 after studying at the IFS School of Finance, formerly known as the Chartered Institute of Bankers.
These are not hotshot sorts traders
Another headhunter says most of the traders implicated in the Libor scandal aren’t hotshot types, but people who got cornered in a mundane area of banks’ treasury departments and hoped to move speedily on to something better paid and more interesting. “It’s not like they were working on rates swaps desks,” he reflects.
This doesn’t mean the people implicated in the Libor scandal were badly paid. It does mean they weren’t paid as much as some of their colleagues.
“A junior treasury trader might earn a total package of £100k-200k,” says one headhunter. “A head of a treasury desk might earn £300k-400k.”
By comparison, he says top rates swap traders can earn seven figures. “Treasury is just a less prestigious place to work,” he concludes. Unfortunately for some people, a spell on a Treasury desk in the late 2000s may end up blighting their entire career.