Interdealer brokers want redundant bankers

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There's hope for the army of former bankers who are occupied with little more than topping up their tans: the likes of ICAP and Tradition are hiring.

In stark contrast to the pain inflicted on investment banking shareholders, ICAP's shares rose nearly 20% last week after it predicted double digit revenue growth and said the interdealer broking (IDB) industry will "continue to display strong structural growth" of around 10% a year.

Tej Dhindsa, a broking specialist at recruitment firm Ingram Mayet, says interdealer brokers are particularly interested in hiring investment banking sales traders with a strong client base: "They're looking for people who can bring in 1m a year in revenues."

Damien Lee, managing director of IDB recruiters Search Partners, confirms the enthusiasm for ex-banking talent: "Good interdealer brokers are now locked in for three years, so we've been looking at people coming out of the likes of Bear Stearns and UBS instead."

ICAP hired three senior traders from Citigroup in February and is said to have hired from ABN recently. Recruiters say Tullett Prebon has hired out of Credit Suisse.

Lee says the most popular ex-banking candidates are equity sales traders who've been working with hedge fund clients: "A guy who's been speaking to 20 hedge fund clients will have a much greater chance of moving his clients across than a guy who's been working with institutional accounts."

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With discretionary investment banking bonuses on the wane, Lee says interdealer brokers' commission-based compensation models are increasingly appealing.

"A typical interdealer broker will pay 30% to 50% of the revenues an individual brings in as a bonus," says Lee. "But some smaller firms will pay as much as 70% - particularly in equity derivatives."

For bonus-calculation purposes, revenues are calculated on the basis of business brought in, minus an individual's salary and national insurance, travel and entertainment costs, and the cost of their Bloomberg or Reuters terminal.

Once all these costs are deducted from revenues, a bonus of 50% of total revenues is likely to come in around the 43% mark. Bonuses are paid quarterly rather than annually.

The only downside to seeking refuge in an interdealer broking firm is that it's likely to be even less tolerant of poor performance than investment banks are: "Banks will at least try to move you into another area. But brokers are ruthless - if you don't perform you're out," Dhindsa says.