The flow of senior bankers out of RBS, long a continuous trickle, turned into a torrent two months ago as the British bank prepared for another big round of redundancies.
Examination of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register suggests senior RBS investment bankers have been leaving the bank of their own accord in advance of the latest layoffs.
Peter Nielsen and Suneel Kamlan, the co-heads of RBS's markets business, said today that the bank plans to exit all equity derivatives and structured retail investor products, simplify its risk management structure into four hubs, and focus its markets business on rates, currencies, asset-backed products, and credit and debt capital markets. The changes are expected to result in 2,000 redundancies, with Asia bearing the brunt of the cuts.
However, there are signs that RBS is losing staff outside the areas specified by Nielsen and Kamlan. Headhunters said the bank is also making 40% of its London-based credit sales team redundant. And the FCA Register reveals that 49 bankers - many of them very senior, have left RBS since April - voluntarily or not.
These exits include: David Coleman, the chief risk officer for financial markets at RBS; Mark Barnes, the global head of macro client trading and FX options at RBS; Ahmad Chaudry, a director in structuring; Brian Daly, the former EMEA head of futures and options sales; Demetris Efstathiou, the former head of CEEMEA strategy; Richard Fawcett, the ex-head of global FX options; and Marc Freydefont, a senior director in the strategic solutions group. John Hourican, head of RBS's markets business, left the bank 'voluntarily' in February.
RBS declined to comment on the exits or on its redundancy programme. Headhunters in London said a far greater exodus of senior RBS bankers is expected after June 28, when they receive the first real chunk of their bonuses for 2012. Under the RBS remuneration programme, bankers receive only £2k of their cash bonuses after the announcement date in March. A further £25k is paid in June. "We're expecting to move a lot of people after the June payment date," said one headhunter, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Although hiring in London has been tame this year, headhunters said RBS bankers will be in demand. "There are some good people at RBS and banks are still hiring selectively in some areas," said David Reynolds at fixed income search firm Scott Reynolds. Citigroup has been engaged in some quiet hiring. Morgan Stanley and Bank of America have also been recruiting selectively.
A lot of the senior traders coming out of RBS want to move into hedge funds, said one headhunter. Others are getting out of the City altogether, he added. Christian Robbins, director at search firm Cherry Bull, said RBS bankers are already interviewing elsewhere but that it's unfortunate that most of RBS's redundancies are in structured products and credit. "Rates and FX hiring is still fundamentally stronger, and this is where RBS's best people are," he said.