It all appears to be happening at Mitsubishi UFJ. The Japanese bank has placed itself above the parapet and said it wants to hire 50 currency and interest rate derivatives traders and 150 sales and research staff. It may find itself submerged beneath CVs.
Exciting as Mitsubishi’s plans are, they may not make a great deal of difference in London. In the first place, they are global and Mitsubishi's global markets head Hitoshi Suzuki cites China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia as particular areas of expansion. In the second place, the hiring will take place over the next three years - not all at once.
At present, Mitsubishi UFJ has 163 registered staff in London according to the FSA. This compares to 148 at Japanese rival Mizuho.
One fixed income headhunter who works for Mitsubishi says he’s heard nothing about big hiring plans in London and that any recruitment here is likely to be restricted to a handful of people and tempered by Mitsubishi's ability to lever its JV with Morgan Stanley. Christian Robbins at Nicholas Scott Executive Search is a little more optimistic. “If they want to meet their aims for the bottom line, they’ll need to expand quite heavily in developed centres like London,” he says. The bank says it wants to double profits to $6.1bn.
Headhunters say Mitsubishi UFJ is seen as a comparatively appealing place to work on the grounds that it typically pays well to attract good staff. In the past, however, it’s also had a few problems with retaining them – Sacha Prinz, it’s co-head of rates left after less than 24 months for BAML and Jeremy Palliser, its head of fixed income, left after 15 months for Daiwa. This may be less of an issue in the current market.
Mitsubishi isn’t the only Japanese bank to make expansionary noises. Mizuho International did some fixed income hiring late last year.
Nevertheless, there’s not really much going on. “You’d have to be overtly bullish to say it’s picked up,” says Robbins.