It's four years since UBS made thousands of people in its fixed income sale and trading business redundant. What looked like a great idea back then has seemed like less of a good idea as fixed income sales and trading revenues rebound. Despite the protestations from UBS investment bank CEO Andrea Orcel that the Swiss bank is more interested in returns than revenues, it's hard to stand on the sidelines and see your fixed income top line fall while U.S. banks in particular experience double digit growth.
It seems UBS has decided to do something about it. It's been bolstering its fixed income trading team with people from Goldman Sachs.
In London, UBS hired Ali Sanai, a former executive director in rates sales at Goldman. In New York, headhunters say it's hired Aliza Raffel, a Goldman Sachs vice president in cross FX sales.
UBS didn't confirm the arrivals. Both are though to be on gardening leave.
The moves follow other recruits to UBS's U.S. fixed income team last year. Star fixed income salesman Josh Miller joined from Deutsche Bank last April, for example. Miller's arrival followed the addition of fellow ex-Deutsche banker Daniel Swasbrook as head of U.S. fixed income distribution at UBS in 2015. Headhunters say Swasbrook has been slowly hiring Deutsche people and that Deutsche is particularly susceptible to his overtones following this year's awful bonuses. All the more so because UBS is actually paying: recent hires are said by headhunters to have received a big uptick in their compensation, with generous guaranteed bonuses pinned to achievable targets.
"The payout relative to production at UBS is lower," says one U.S.-focused headhunter. "You don't have to produce as much there to get paid."
While people might want to work for UBS for this reason, a London headhunter cautions against expecting a wave of hiring. "It's ones and twos. They're so light everywhere that as markets come back it makes sense to add a couple of people."