Bankers in RBS’s markets division have reason to be paranoid, given that around 3,000 of them will probably be eliminated before Christmas. However, along with employees at the bank’s Scottish HQ, most FX and rates professionals should be ok.
RBS is a big player in the FX arena, with a nearly 10% market share, according to Euromoney. The rates and FX business has also been performing relatively well: in the first half of this year, income in the area rose to 2.9bn, up from 1.6bn in the first half of 2007.
RBS appears to be trying to capitalise on this. In September, it hired Christiane Mandell from Bank of America to run its US FX business.
Finance director Guy Whittaker has indicated the bank’s intention to reorientate the business around on ‘customer-focused’ activities. Low-risk FX sales and spot trading to the bank’s corporate clients are likely to feature highly.
Less secure are RBS’s FX derivatives and prop traders. The bank dumped five members of its FX algo team in May.
Recruiters say there are still overlaps with the ABN FX team and that legacy RBS traders are likely to come out on top. “Their rates and currencies business has done incredibly well,” says one FX headhunter. “But there will still be cuts.”
Redundant FX staff will be in with a better chance than most at getting reemployed in 2009. “Most banks have had good years in FX,” says another recruiter. “If they’re going to add headcount anywhere, it will be here.”