However, the pain in M&A has served to distract our attention from the pain in equities. Equities headhunters say there have been plenty of cuts already to banks' equities sales and trading businesses and that even more cuts are unfortunately coming soon.
Nomura has apparently cut 10% of its equity researchers already and is still to cut sales and sales trading. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is allegedly planning cuts across equities. UBS is purportedly intending to cut 10-15% of its equities team once it's dispensed with its M&A bankers. Credit Suisse will supposedly be cutting somewhere around the same proportion of its own equities team. Morgan Stanley and Citi are expected to trim their equities businesses further and, following their merger, Cheuvreux and Kepler are expected to make people redundant on both sides.
At the same time, Investec is removing even more of the people it acquired through Evolution, and additional equities salespeople, traders and researchers are still emerging on the market from recent cuts at JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Jefferies.
If you work in equities sales and trading, none of this makes for an easy future. Nor do things seem likely to improve soon. As we mentioned last week, JPMorgan analysts are predicting an 18% decline in equities sales and trading revenues this year and a 14% decline next year. Falling commissions and weak volumes are to blame. Bank of America is cutting 40 equities people in Asia. The Wall Street Journal says the average commission per trade in Hong Kong has fallen from 0.26 percentage point a decade ago to 0.19 now. The average commission on electronic trades is just 0.05.
If you lose your job in equities, there is some hiring. SocGen is building - particularly in Asia, where it's just appointed a new head of equities. Exane is also rumoured to be hiring. Needless to say, the numbers hired will be far too small to make much of a difference. If you're an equity researcher or salesperson who's out of the market, your best bet may unfortunately be to try something completely different.