European M&A is not doing well in 2016 and boutique firms are likely to be suffering as a result. Is this why junior staff are leaving?
Several different recruitment firms in London say they've received CVs from associate-level of staff coming out of Moelis & Co in the past few weeks. "It's not many people, just four," says one, speaking on condition of anonymity. However, Moelis is a comparatively small operation in the UK, with 60 FCA registered staff in total - suggesting up to 8% of people have gone. Figures from Dealogic suggest Moelis was involved in $32.6bn of announced deals in 2015. So far this year, it's only been involved in deals worth $4.8bn.
The FCA Register suggests that two people left Moelis without immediately moving into other roles in April: Yannick Sonna and Noelle Medani, both of whom were registered with the firm in mid-2015. Sonna was an associate and Medani's position is unclear. A spokeperson for the firm said, "These limited staff departures are being made as part of our regular business reviews."
Boutique M&A firms have a reputation for working juniors particularly hard, and in the current arid environment there's likely to be a lot of pitching and less in the way of execution. This might be why staff at other boutique firms appear to be leaving of their own volition. Alessandro Ancora, a former associate at Greenhill & Co. just joined Rothschild. Matthew Carter, another former associate at Greenhill, just joined automotive group Inchcape as business development manager. And Nicola Wang, a former director in healthcare M&A at Perella Weinberg in London, just joined the corporate strategy and development team at AstraZeneca.
Unless M&A picks up as the year progresses boutiques may find it necessary to trim their cost base. In a good year, however, boutiques can be very profitable: Moelis made an operating profit of £28m on turnover of £60m for 2014 (the last year for which accounts are available).