A list of the banks that were secretly still hiring in December and may hire you now

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Recruiting in December is a good sign – especially if it involves hiring higher cost people into the front office. It implies optimism that things might be OK the following year and a willingness to add costs before year end. At worst, it suggests opportunism about picking up good people who’ve lost their jobs, cheaply. Both suggest potential sources of employment at the start of 2012

Where, therefore, was still hiring in the final days of 2011? Research company IMAS Insight has assembled a firm-by-firm list based upon changes to the number of FSA registered persons in London. Some of December’s big recruiters were predictable and known. Some: less so.

1. Investec

The biggest net adder of staff in December was Investec, which had a 25.5% monthly increase (and a 34.6% year increase) in FSA registered persons. This is entirely predictable given the acquisition of Evolution, Less promisingly, it may be reversed in January/February as around 40% of the combined staff are apparently being let go. 

2.  Citigroup Global Markets UK Equity Limited, and Citigroup Global Markets

This is more surprising. IMAS says Citigroup Global Markets UK Equity Limited, Citigroup’s European equity sales and trading business, increased its number of registered persons by 5.9% in December, implying the addition of around 17 people. Separately, Citigroup Global Markets, the broader markets business at Citi, added 21 registered persons in December, an increase of 1.3%.

This all comes while Citi is reducing costs. CFO John Gerspach made an investor presentation recently stating that: “While we are strategically committed to securities and banking, we are not oblivious to the fact that our cost structure cannot be justified by our current revenues."

3.  ICAP Securities

ICAP increased its number of registered persons by around 9 people in December, an increase of 2.2%. This follows revelations last week that ICAP had been cutting jobs and bonuses as volumes fell. It’s possible the firm was seeking to make the most of traders leaving banks.

4.  BGC Brokers

ICAP’s interdealing broking rival BGC also added around 8 staff in December, a 2.2% increase. Like ICAP, it may have been hiring ex-bank traders.

5.  St. James’s Place Wealth Management

As we have noted before, St James’s Place is a potential home for former salespeople and traders seeking to reinvent themselves as independent financial advisors. The wealth management group has just relaunched its ‘Wealth Academy’ and plans to train up to 60 people a year, many of whom are likely to have a previous banking background. In December, it added around 28 new registered persons.

6.  BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas is also making redundancies. And yet, it still seems to be hiring. In December, it added 13 people to its headcount of FSA registered persons. Over 2012 as a whole, it added 118.

7.  Jefferies

Jefferies has been one of the most indefatigable hirers of recent times, and December was no different. The bank added 7 registered persons, an increase of 1.2%.

Banks that were secretly firing

Notably, some banks were also quietly culling their registered persons at the end of last year. Again, many of the cuts are know, but some are less so.

The biggest predictable cullers were RBS, in various of its iterations, and Unicredit – which is cutting its equities business. 

More surprising, were cuts at Macquarie, which quietly let go of nearly 20 people in December (8% of its total), or RBC – which had been hiring and got rid of 5. Nomura did away with 60 people in London during the month.

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