Nonetheless, banks are hiring. As we reported this morning, various names have already been added to the Financial Conduct Authority register in London in 2016 - although many are likely to have been recruited in November 2015, or before.
Some banks have also been busy posting new job advertisements over the Christmas and New Year period. And some of these are particularly illuminating when it comes to the direction the industry will take over the next year 12 months. We've listed the 10 most interesting and representative vacancies at Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank, RBS and BNP Paribas below. Some banks are barely hiring at all - Citi is only advertising two jobs in its investment bank in London, UBS is only advertising five.
If you work on the buy-side, 2016 will be another good year for real estate teams. UK commercial real estate delivered unleveraged total returns of 15% last year according to Schroders, which launched a new European Real Estate fund in December.
Accordingly, Goldman Sachs is looking for a real estate analyst for its London merchant banking division, which invests in real estate opportunities among others. The successful candidate will have one to three years' experience in real estate corporate finance and M&A. Finding the right candidate may be hard: recruiters say junior real estate bankers are like hen's teeth now.
As we reported last year, equity research recruitment is changing. Under MiFID II, banks will eventually need to charge clients for research specifically. This is creating a drive to hire big name researchers who can produce the sorts of detailed reports clients will pay for.
It's also creating pressure to cut the spend on junior equity researchers. J.P. Morgan appears to have come up with one solution: it's doing the grunt work for equity research in Mumbai.
The US bank is currently advertising for junior equity research analysts in Mumbai. Successful candidates, who need a keen interest in financial markets and strong quant skills, will produce text, tables and charts for J.P.M's researchers in London and elsewhere.
As regulatory and technical changes take affect, the structure of the financial markets is changing. MiFID II may have been delayed until 2017 in Europe, but banks still need to contend with the continued implementation of the Volcker Rule in the US, capital regulations like the net stable funding ratio, and the impact of high frequency trading, dark pools, and central clearing.
Goldman Sachs has a 'market structure transition team' to help navigate these changes. It's currently looking for a vice president to work with trading teams to, 'ensure appropriate regulatory implementation and develop front office market structure strategy'.
As global wealth is increasingly skewed to high net worth individuals, so banks are increasingly looking to sell investment banking as well as private wealth management services to this market.
Credit Suisse is explicitly pursuing this strategy in 2016. So, it seems is J.P. Morgan.
In 2015, J.P.M quietly launched what it describes as a, 'new coverage effort in the Corporate & Investment Bank of ultra high net worth families and family investment firms'.
Now it's hiring an analyst for this group. The analyst will work on idea origination and transaction execution. Much like any analyst in IBD, except his/her clients will be rich individuals and families rather than corporates.
Deutsche Bank's Birmingham UK office has been in operation for several years and the bank now employs 2,000 people there.
Initially, the trading jobs Deutsche located in Birmingham were 'low touch', involving simple trades with undemanding clients.
However, as Deutsche looks to cut costs, there are signs that it's adding higher value and more complex jobs in Birmingham. For example, it's currently advertising for a structured credit trading analyst to provide, 'structured solutions to European clients across a variety of products, such as interest rate swaps, credit exotics, Repurchase Agreements (repo) financing and special situation financing', in the UK's second city.
At all banks, 2016 will be a year of continued emphasis on efficiency. As regulatory and control infrastructure costs mount, banks are increasingly seeking to eliminate unnecessary duplication and to streamline IT systems.
Deutsche Bank especially has big plans to address its sprawling technology systems in 2016. The German bank is currently advertising for a VP level 'head of market initiatives' in its technology team. The successful candidate will be at the forefront of the, 'optimization of service propositions, market initiatives and operational resources'.
RBS is expected to continue winding down its investment bank in 2016 (FX, flow rates, and investment grade traders excepted), but it still needs to address the recent bad behaviour of its staff.
After settling a huge fine for FX rigging in August last year, RBS is busy trying to keep its traders in line. The UK bank is currently looking for a 'conduct risk analyst' to work with front office staff in its corporate and investment bank. The successful candidate will be instrumental in, 'developing and operating central conduct controls'.
The rule bans proprietary trading and has big implications for the way banks make markets. 2016 is the year that the rule will bed-down and that banks will need to make the final tweaks necessary for its full implementation. Deutsche has a risk office devoted to Volcker, and is currently hiring a director for it.
Lastly, Jamie Dimon may have dismissed Blockchain technology, but some banks seem to think it has a future.
BNP Paribas has a CIB Blockchain Task Force and CIB Blockchain Innovation Lab. It's looking for a solutions manager to 'coordinate its global markets Blockchain initiatives'. If you're among the people who think Blockchain's the technology of the future, this is the vacancy for you.