Banks are recruiting senior staff and taking on university leavers and MBAs, but the hiring action around experienced analysts and associates remains negligible.
And despite claims that M&A is picking up, recruiters say there's absolutely no indication when hiring at this level will resume.
This is partly because recruiters don't know what's going on: there are so many people on the market that banks are able to hire directly. It's also because it takes a big pick-up in activity to drive recruitment of experienced juniors: it can be easier to reallocate people internally.
"Most places have enough people to support the deals that they've got, and enough slack to support a small increase in any extra deals that come in. If there is a step change in flow then the case for revisiting their junior resource needs will have to be revisited" says Jim Nairn at recruitment firm The Cornell Partnership.
"Banks are only going to hire at this level when activity picks up significantly," says the head of HR at one European bank in the City. "It will be next year before we're likely to need any experienced analysts or associates."
The head of recruitment at one major US bank says junior hiring tends to be driven mostly by poaching. He also says that it lags mid-ranking and senior hiring by a few months, implying that it will happen in the near future. "The surge of refinancing coming out of the credit crunch means that our capital markets business is now firing on all cylinders and we're focusing recruitment at the mid-ranking and senior level."
In the meantime, the head of HR says redundant analysts and associates should make the most of their time off: "You should be studying, travelling, and living somewhere very cheap."