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Editor’s take: The jobs are out there

What with thousands of redundancies and disappearing revenues, you could be forgiven for thinking that bankers who lose their jobs in the current environment won’t work again for a very long time. This isn’t strictly true.

First (as ever), the bad news: Lehman Brothers is the latest to rejoin the redundancy parade, with a round of further job cuts, said to be imminent.

But now, the good news: banks may not be hiring nearly as many people as they did over the past few years, but they are still hiring.

Last week’s research from Morgan McKinley may have shown there were nearly 3,000 more candidates than jobs in April, but it did at least also show there were nearly 9,000 jobs on offer in the City.

And before you cry that Morgan McKinley is a back and middle office-focused recruiter and all those jobs are for product controllers and risk managers, there are also hiring hot spots in the front office.

Hedge funds, private banks, infrastructure funds hiring

Hedge funds are still going hell for leather. A few weeks ago, the head of one search firm told me he’d been handed 10 mandates for ‘managing director-level’ roles at one large international fund.

Private banks are also hiring fervently, as are infrastructure funds and restructuring teams. Distressed debt will surely be next.

Admittedly, none of this is great news if you specialise in leveraged finance, structured credit, capital markets, or even M&A – the same search firm head who’d been handed those hedge fund mandates said he’d had three MD searches in M&A advisory pulled in one week.

Reinvention, relegation, R&R

Faced with the dearth of jobs, bankers in dead areas have three fundamental choices: reinvention, relegation, or R&R.

Reinvention is easiest at junior levels: infrastructure funds are apparently prepared to hire junior bankers if they have the ‘right personality’ and the right modelling skills.

Relegation is equally a possibility, with lower-tier firms and boutiques seeking to take advantage of cuts in the top tier. Numis and Nomura have both said they want to hire. Citigroup’s head of European TMT is voluntarily (it appears) leaving for a boutique.

R&R is rational if you have the financial wherewithal to sit out until markets return. Hence the rash of recent sabbaticals.

At some point, hiring will pick up again. There are already vague signs that ABS and even CDOs are trying to come back from the dead.

It’s also worth remembering that banks didn’t hire – or did hire, and then let go of – junior analysts and associates back in 2001 and 2002. They then had to pay a premium for that cohort when markets picked up again.

In the same way, structured credit specialists and financial sponsors bankers could find themselves sought after once their ranks are thinned. The Financial Times warned last week that the exodus from the financial sponsor space risks creating a talent shortage in future.

Of the three options given above, relegation at whatever price may therefore be the best option right now. It will, at least, allow you to stay in the market. And in the long term, once everyone else has quit, that could pay off.

Comments (17)

  1. Recruiters have plenty of fictitious jobs.

  2. The number of jobs available is zero or negative. Recruiters are only collecting CVs. Private Equity people are the next to loose their jobs. If they call you for an interview, that’s because they want to make HR people work, not because they really want to hire someone…

    anonymous, M&A Reply
  3. poorly researched article – basing it on one single recruiter’s opnion.
    As the others + most people on this website are from banks etc – we know if people are being hired or not.

  4. I agree with the comments above. Not only that, recruiters call you, talk about a non-existing job, but when you ask them for the job description or simply the name of the hiring company, they dont have it/cant disclose. Typical English crap (double-faced). Lets see if the government pays now redundancies packages to all the honest and hardworking people working crazy hours

  5. Clearly poorly researched, I agree. I have former colleagues with families who are packing up, selling their home and moving back to their hometown in the continent. You can’t sit it out in London when you have a mortgage and a family…in any case it’s tough for juniors as well.

  6. There is still hiring being done in Asia, but at a much reduced level and mainly at non-bulge firms being opportunistic and beefing up their platforms.

  7. Picked up my job three weeks ago, junior front office, minimal finance exp, phD maths/physics. Obviously the number of jobs going is smaller than last year, but almost surely > 0.

  8. There are jobs out there – it’s just that client and therefore recruiter expectations are now a lot higher.

    As a recruiter, why should I let you know my proprietary information without having even met you …. ? Just because recrutiers were prepared to dish out this information without too much of a struggle, at the peak of the market, does’nt mean that are prepared to do it now.

    Oh and by the way, if you and I have a telephone interview and I don’t like what I’m hearing from you …. for instance if you don’t convince me that the role you are applying for / qualified is actually something you want to commit to …. then why should I spend my time meeting you and telling you about my position ?

    The truth of the matter is that there are many poeple out there who have been riding a gravy train. You know what – the wheels fell off some time ago and those that don’t relaise how to approach their job search are going to find themselves left on the sidings.

  9. Responding to the comment by the recruiter:

    Most candidates know the market is a lot tougher. However, they should still be told where their CV is being sent and progress of any applications.

    I don’t particularly appreciate being told my CV has been sent out but having a recruiter refuse to tell me where. Even in this market there are some companies I would not want to work for and I need to keep track of my applications, so I don’t send multiple applications to the same company.

    What is even more diappointing is when recruiters initially tells you that you have been rejected by a number of these unnamed companies and then when pressed admits your CV was never actually sent out – probably because it was a ficticious job you applied for!

  10. Agree with jobseeker

    “Oh and by the way, if you and I have a telephone interview and I don’t like what I’m hearing from you …. for instance if you don’t convince me that the role you are applying for / qualified is actually something you want to commit to …. then why should I spend my time meeting you and telling you about my position”

    – because more often than not a recuiter is totally not qualified to tell if the role is suitable. Recruiters should convince us why we should give them their CVs and why a role is suitable.

  11. This discussion seems to be all about jobs offered by recruiters, which some are suspicious of. What about the hundreds of jobs on this site that are featured from direct named employers. Are these being overlooked somewhat in the rush to comment on the state of the marketplace? How can you say that there are zero jobs out there, when I can see 26 from Dresdener Kleinwort, 35 from State Street, 26 from Lehman Bros, 20 from Schroders, 15 from Societe Generale, just from the homepage of eFinancialCareers today? Are these jobs being overlooked or are some choosing not to see them?

    eFinancialCareers Marketing Reply
  12. In response to Jobseeker and Anon. Thank you for your input.
    A good recruiter will not send your cv to a company till you have been fully briefed on the company name. If you allow a recruiter to spray your cv everywhere without getting company names you need to think about who you are working with but also how you are operating as a candidate in the market. Unlike a lot of the jobs that they recruit for, a recruiter lives or dies on delivery of what their client wants. The clients pay the bills, in the majority of cases only when a candidate starts a job. Recruiters who don’t know what they are talking about or what they are doing tend not to last very long. Yes as a candidate you do need to an explanation as to what a role can do for you. However, in the current climate, as a candidate, you do need to make more of an effort to convince the recruiter that you are a suitable individual than you did say 12 months ago, pre credit crunch.
    Remember, the consultant is most likely to put forward and push the candidates who are not only qualified to do the job but can demonstrate an appetite to do the job. It’s also worthwhile remembering that many recruiters are ex-industry.

  13. as a fellow recruiter I have to agree with buysider, and unfortunately alot of recruiters out there do give the rest of us a bad name.

    so as much as you would research the companies you want to work for, I suggest you also research the recruitment firms you choose to represent you and if possible the consultant also.

    Being ex-industry is neither here nor there, the clients choose to use us as their first stage of interview so you need to impress us just as much as them, after all when we put you forward for the role its us you are representing as much as yourself and our relationship with the client you are testing. We need to buy into you as much as you need to buy into us.

    For the record, there are loads of jobs available, I’m just as busy now as I was last year, so get the chip off your shoulder, fix your CV and brush up your attitude.

  14. How can recruiters judge whether you re the right candidate and send your cv to an employer if themselves have no idea what particular roles involve, let alone judging how relevant your experience and qualifications are… Sometimes it s just a complete and utter waste of time… The reality is, there s hardly any jobs out there… And if there re a couple of openings just be ready to receive calls by a number of recruiters for the exact same position, all trying to annoyingly convince you that they can really add value to your job prospects by simply meeting up with them…

  15. Responding to the comment from eFinancialCareers Marketing:

    It’s not just recruiters who advertise jobs which aren’t there. When I left UBS, HR informed me that while there were 100’s of jobs at my level on the intra net, many were non existent jobs because of hiring freezes etc. It does waste a lot of time for the job seeker, but I presume with companies the job may have existed initially…

  16. hello, anyone keen for drink after work?

  17. Most recruiters are woefully underqualified! IT, sales, trading, research….you name it. When times were good their websites were (and still are) full of self-praise about how ‘special’ and ‘unique’ when all they did was get a call from a manager who was drowning in work and needed bodies. You can disguise mediocre recruitment in a hectic and bulging market.

    When times are good again, this bitterness towards recruiters will disappear!

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