GUEST COMMENT: Where to avoid seeking a job in investment banking in 2012, and where you have a chance of reemployment

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Andrew Pringle

So what’s going to happen to recruitment in 2012? Well, as the ‘Sage of Holborn’ I would like to say I can predict exactly what will happen.  In reality, however, the future is opaque.

What I can tell you, is what we are hearing from clients and candidates.  Based upon this, I suggest the following.

Where not to look for a role in IB:

1. South–East Asia

The South East Asian ‘feeding frenzy’ of 2010 and early 2011 has disappeared. According to Hays (not sure how reliable this is..), Singapore appointments are down 50%. We have seen SE Asian placements falling at least 20%, so there appears to be some truth in this.

2. Bulge Brackets

There was virtually no recruitment in large banks throughout the last two quarters of 2011. We have also been told that the natural attrition normally seen at analyst and associate level has not happened (because there are no jobs for them to go to!!) so there will be further redundancies

3. Growth Companies

The companies who were trying to grow aggressively in IB have failed (with the exception of Barcap). SocGen, BNP, Nomura, Religare etc have all retrenched while other businesses are looking at specific sectors only (Eg. Project Finance advisory related to the leveraged side of the client business).

4. Any ECM team…

No comment, except to say that ECM is far from the most active area right now.

Where to look for a job in IB:

So what is looking hot? I am sure most of these will make sense and that I will not be telling you anything you don’t know. But:

1. Russia

After the implosion in 2008 and 2009 with companies like RenCap retrenching, Russian hiring went dead.

However, we are now hearing that Russian banks like RenCap and VTB are the ‘place to be,’ with plans to build out IB across their traditional natural resources businesses and also in new areas like telcos and infrastructure.

2. Boutiques

Boutiques with a good reputation and good attitudes (ie. not a hire and fire mentality) are hot. So, especially, are boutiques with a focus on debt advisory/restructuring or private placement.

3. Some specific sector teams

Industry sectors like tech (digital), financial sponsors, business services (mid-long term pitch) private placement and FIG seem to be shaping up for some hiring

4. Corporate Development

Corporate development used to be known as the ‘Graveyard for M&A bankers.’ Nowadays, this is not only not true but there are some of the best ex-bankers in the city working for corporates. Who can blame them when companies like Cisco have $41 billion to spend and the only way to hit targets of adding to the bottom line is through  acquisitions.

5. Private Equity

The pitch at the moment is that corporates have all the money. However there’s a good level of investment going on in the debt and distressed space. Real estate in particular is active.

Obviously this is only my perspective on what is good and bad from 2011 and for 2012 so any further thoughts or ideas would be very much appreciated!