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Would you join a French bank without a guarantee?

It’s no secret that Société Générale wants to hire. Back in May, it declared its intention of recruiting 20 senior corporate financiers and 15 M&A bankers in Western Europe and Moscow in the near future.

So far, it doesn’t appear to have hired any of them. Recruitment activity has been equally subdued at other French banks. Paribas recruited Stefano Blotto from Merrill Lynch in April, and Calyon hired Mike Mayo from Deutsche into its US business in March, but that’s about it for big name additions.

Yesterday, SocGen chief exec Frédéric Oudéa gave an indication why. “French banks have formed a contract with the Government and the regulator that they will not pay guaranteed bonuses for more than one year,” he told The Times.

If it won’t offer guarantees, recruiters say SocGen’s unlikely to get anywhere. “They’re going to have to pay guarantees in London,” says the head of investment banking at one search firm. “There’s strong demand for revenue accretive people at the moment.”

It doesn’t help that rival banks are said to be offering guarantees. Barclays is building in equities and ECM and is said to be offering generous multi-year payouts. Citigroup and Bank of America are said to be offering them too.

The headhunter adds that SocGen’s lack of strength in M&A makes guarantees all the more important in London. Although it was fourth for M&A in France in the second quarter, it ranked outside the top 20 in Europe. “SocGen are very strong in their home market, but not elsewhere. They’re also seen as highly political,” he adds.

Comments (17)

  1. I wouldn’t work for a French bank…. Full Stop!

  2. Stupid place to work – highly UNEDUCATED people.

  3. Whats your reasoning Will, I’m curious?

  4. Low pay, all top people french – non merci

  5. Lots of politics @ French organisations from my expreience…… I prefer to get in, get my work done and not worry anout too much politics. I am also engaged to a French girl – more than enough for me :-)

  6. you wont see too many top hires by them as they not too many “french” are in top positions at other places and they wont hire an englishman, would they…that too for a top post!!!

  7. Hiring after Madoff & global financial meltdowns should produce a “flight to quality” hiring, but is it?

    There appears to be little evidence of it, despite the number of proven “quality back benchers” sitting on the sidelines.

    If the financial industry is waiting for the next big thing to exploit, it may have to wait a long time; meanwhile customers are being lost in droves while financiers sit on their hands unable to recover a market of trust.

  8. I did a year in Paris for French FS org and I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience. There is also a glass ceiling in French organisations, both for commoners and non-frogs.

  9. i am french and i strongly advised you english people NOT to work in a french bank….waste of time and energy and salary wise dont get me started. unfortunately we, french ass——- are still living in some stupid wonderland we, alone can understand

  10. i have been working for a french bank in paris over the last 3 years (one of the 3 mentioned in the article) : beeing not french it basically put me off automatically from any possibility to get to a top position..morover there is a sort of an Ecole Polytechnique mafia…if you are not one of them consider a – 30% in salary (not to mention in bonus)
    the only thing they definetely got here is the quality of life…40 days of vacation, almost impossible to be sacked and the city of Paris…
    so all in all it’s worth to work for a french bank only if you’re located in paris…if u work in london u basically loose all the pro and you get only the downside

  11. If not french then who ? Among english only barclays seems to be active, rest are dead or boring. Americans are lost

  12. VJ…who is the boring “rest”?

  13. VJ- I would argue that the americans would be the first to emerge from this total mess. btw – i’m not american and don’t work in an american bank. Agree about the english (RBS is a dead duck).

  14. Working for a French boutique (where none of this nonsense applies and anglo-sachsan pragmatism prevails), I can see that most of the large French banks want you to be either completley part of the system (ecole polytechnique/superieure) or be completly outside (US, UK or or others).

    However, it is impossible for a French or franco belge to break into the upper ranks if they are not the right almuni or fraternity. I guess French business has always been like this and in all fairness, it does not seem to have hurt them… Don’t hate the players, hate the system. As for me, I dont think I would join a large French bank.

  15. I work in a French bank (in London) and the global head for sales is not French. Maybe if u work in Paris it’s a little bit different, but how many non-German guys have the top seats in DB in Frankfurt and how many non-english in RBS London? that’s quite normal I suppose.

  16. @Andrea

    DB’s CEO is Swiss, not German, for startes. UBS’s CEO is German, Credit Suisse’s Brady Dougan is American. What is your point?

  17. I work in a french bank and wouldnt advice anyone to work there. Most of the business positions are taken by french. I dont know any non-french manager after a certain level (say from head of desk onwards). Its also very hard to break into the french circle so I do feel like there is a big divide. For anyone serious about his career, French banks can be a big put off.
    Its a nice place to retire though.

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