The market for front office banking jobs - jobs that actually generate revenue - in London is looking shaky. Year-on-year all new London finance jobs fell 27% in July according to recruitment firm Morgan McKinley. In times of retrenchment, it's the revenue- roles that suffer the most.
Banks' own websites provide scant evidence that they are recruiting in the front office. UBS, for example, has no London investment banking positions open now. All of Credit Suisse's European capital markets and M&A job openings are currently in Warsaw (as, incidentally, is every single one of Goldman's European technology jobs these days); Morgan Stanley is advertising for an 'analyst two' with a masters degree - to work in M&A in the Polish capital.
While Warsaw might be winning, the City is starting to suffer. Yes, it's summer, but there are already rumours of redundancies within London finance recruiters. "We can't carry anyone who's not making money now," says the head of one finance recruitment firm. "Previously, we might have cut them some slack."
Nonetheless, hiring has not shutdown altogether. London is a City with 722,000 people working in finance. In a given year, at least 15% of them will look for new jobs. "Business goes on as usual," reflects the head of one M&A search boutique in the City. "As long as people leave their jobs, banks will need to replace them." Come September, there may even be some growth opportunities. Mostly, they won't be in the biggest banks - M&A recruiters, for example, are now focused on staffing boutiques and restructuring houses - but sometimes they will be.
If you're looking for a front office finance job in a London bank in September, here's where recruitment looks (sort of) inevitable:
London TMT teams need extra manpower, says Andy Pringle, founder of recruitment firm Circle Square. "It's one of the only areas banks will be hiring for," he adds.
There's a good reason for this: Dealogic says technology M&A deals globally are at their highest level year-to-date since 2000, while Deutsche Bank economists point out that European technology stocks tend to benefit from a strengthening dollar . Accordingly, Goldman Sachs is currently looking for an associate for its London technology and industrials team - although it's a role the firm seems in no hurry to fill as it's been advertised since May.
Utilities M&A teams also look like a sure thing. UK-based energy and utilities deals were up 167% year-on-year to mid-July. As well as an M&A analyst in Warsaw, Morgan Stanley is looking for associates for its global power and utilities and natural resources M&A teams in London.
Equities sales and trading revenues are in the doldrums. As revenues fall and margins are squeezed, banks are pressure to extract costs and strengthen their electronic trading platforms. Goldman Sachs, for example, is in the process of a push to upgrade its electronic equities platform. "At a time when people are pulling back or potentially retrenching, we are stepping on the gas," said Raj Mahajan, head of Goldman's electronic and algorithmic trading business, in March this year.
In London, there are signs that Goldman and other banks are continuing the push into index-linked equity products which thrive in the electronic trading space. Deutsche Bank, for example, is looking for someone to manage the centralized risk book for its equities business as it builds, "large scale systematic solutions for the Execution franchise;" index arbitrage and ETF experience are desirable. J.P. Morgan is looking for a Delta 1 trader at analyst or associate level for its "Index Forward Trading Team." Goldman Sachs is looking for a Delta One strats person to, build the "execution service for our high and low touch clients."
Headhunters say there's also demand at the higher margin end of the equity derivatives space though. "Structured products have done well. The structured solution products carry the highest margin and the UK market has been active," says one, speaking off the record. "Several of the banks have had good years here and are hiring."
Lastly, there are some small indications that banks might just hire in rates. Again, there's reason for this. Rates trading revenues at RBS were up by 60% year on year in the second quarter. Yes, no other bank duplicated this performance (as far as we know), but most banks said their rates desks did well. Naturally, this might just have been the 'Brexit effect', but with the Bank of England intimating more cuts to come and uncertainty over U.S. rate rises, rates traders are suddenly back in the game.
It helps that rates desks are incredibly lean. G10 rates revenues fell 37% between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2015 according to research firm Coalition and most banks pared rates desks accordingly. There are vague indications that banks might now be rethinking years of cuts: Deutsche is hiring a London-based rates sales person to act as an "ambassador" to its clients in Japan; Citi is hiring a vice president to work on its sterling rates trading desk.
Photo: Mike Powell. Getty