The joys of working for a retail bank

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Back in the days when securitization was a handy way of making money out of mortgage books, several retail banks set up their own teams.

The surprise is that several years later, and with securitization as dynamic as a patio plant, several of them still exist.

Pockets of (seemingly) undisturbed securitization talent still lurk at the likes of HBOS, Santander Global Banking and Markets (formerly known as Abbey Financial Markets), and RBS.

The only pooper at the retail banking securitization soirée appears to be Lloyds TSB, which has nudged its efforts into a gutter following the swift departure of Mark Escott, its head of securitization, last November.

Insiders in surviving teams say securitizing assets generated elsewhere in the same organisation has its benefits. "It's certainly easier to do transactions when you don't have to ferret around for other people's business," reflects Rick Gambetta, head of CMBS at HBOS.

Given the current market, it's not all peace and love, however. Steve Gandy, head of securitization at Santander, says they have the advantage of being able to work on deals from the parent company, "but unless the market for primary issues returns soon, the deals we are currently structuring may never come to market."

This need not be as dire as it seems. Ron Thompson, head of securitization research at RBS, estimates that of €18bn of securitized assets issued so far this year, only €4.3bn have been sold on public markets anyway - with the remainder retained by the issuers, mostly for use as repo collateral.

Gandy says his team (which he has no plans to expand) is working on "several issues for our affiliates, all of which are confidential", plus two pre-placed transactions for corporate clients.

But while working for an in-house securitization team has its advantages, it's also dull. "If you're a banker in a normal market, where do you want to be - at Deutsche doing some quirky deals, or doing some boring triple A deals on behalf of your own bank? It's not exactly exciting, mentally stimulating work," says a recruiter in the area.

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