More recruiter pain, but opportunistic hiring continues

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Watmough Mallett, a derivatives, fund and finance recruitment firm is being wound down. Korn/Ferry International is said to be having second thoughts about some of the European staff it hired from Whitney Group recently, and Michael Page has issued a profits warning.

"We are winding down the business in an orderly fashion," says Tim Watmough, managing director of Watmough Mallett. "This has nothing to do with insolvency. Everyone will be paid what is due to them." Fourteen staff are being made redundant.

Watmough was coy about the reasons for closing the firm which he founded seven years ago. However, the managing director of another financial services recruiter says many of those in the industry are now being asked to secure company debt against their homes: "For a lot of people, this is more than their risk appetite can bear," he says.

Separately, Korn/Ferry International, which last month hired two associates, three consultants and a PA from the European shell of US search firm Whitney Group, is rumoured to be having second thoughts about the move. Insiders say the two associates have already been let go.

Tom Seaden, head of the Whitney Group's European business and one of the hires, passed away last month. Two consultants are left.

Lastly, Michael Page, which as a listed company is a helpful barometer of the recruitment climate, today issued a profits warning and promised to cut 400 staff, citing slowing recruitment demand from the legal, financial, and retail sectors.

Banks eager to upgrade

The good news, is that banks are still keen to hire opportunistically. A poll undertaken by McKinsey in early November (and reported in the Financial News) found that 21% of financial services firms were keen to hire talent that might otherwise be unavailable. This was higher than any other industry.