2017 isn't starting well for equities sales and trading professionals. First Morgan Stanley trimmed directors in its equities team, then HSBC did. Now, it seems Panmure Gordon is doing the same.
Headhunters say the British M&A and brokerage house has quietly parted company with four of its most senior staff. They are: Hugh Rich, a director of equity sales, Paul Modlock, the head of sales, Nick Cutting, a senior equities salesman, and Harinder Sandhu, a director in cross sector sales.
Cutting joined Panmure Gordon in 2000 after 10 years at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. Sandhu, however, was only hired by the firm in January 2016 after leaving an African private equity fund. Rich was hired from Charles Stanley in 2015.
Finding a new job in equities sales and trading isn't easy, especially if you're senior and therefore expensive. Nomura closed its European equities business in April last year, making around 500 staff redundant. Some of Nomura's equities staff have been rehired by the likes of Jefferies, but plenty are still out of the market. Late last year, Tim Harvey, a former head of equities trading at Cantor Fitzgerald and RBC Capital Markets became the landlord of a pub in Kent. “If you’re 45 year-old equities trader, life is tough,” he told us. “Your best bet is to join a commission only house, like Mirabaud, and eat what you kill.”
Panmure Gordon made a profit of £168k in the six months to June 2016, up from a similarly sized loss a year before. The bank has been cutting costs after making a loss of nearly £17m in 2015. "We've trimmed a few people on the sales desk and are hiring in other areas," says CEO Patric Johnson. "Salespeople are vital, but as the business changes under MiFID II we're investing more heavily in technology. This is just a case of increasing spending in some areas while other areas are reduced."
Banking analysts at Bernstein Research say U.S. equities desks could have a good 2017 as investors "churn" their portfolios under Trump. It's less certain this will be the case in London. In 2016, most U.S. banks had a difficult fourth quarter in equities trading: at Goldman Sachs, revenues fell by 12% compared to a year earlier.
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