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Morning Coffee: Laid off in commodities in Asia? Try Westpac

Westpac hiring in Asian comodities

It's mainly firing

Earlier this week we tipped Westpac as one of the top “under the radar” recruiters in the Asian banking sector, especially for compliance and trade-finance jobs. Now a senior Westpac executive has revealed that the firm has also been hiring for its Singapore commodities desk and is continuing to expand the function.

Westpac’s metals-focused commodity trading unit in the city state has grown into a 10-strong team over the past 18 months, Paul Gardner, the firm’s Singapore-based global head of structured commodity finance, told Reuters. While not revealing exact headcount plans, Gardner said Westpac will further grow its commodities business to support its clients in Asia.

The Australian bank may not have many problems recruiting – there is commodities talent on the job market right now globally. Over the past year fixed income currencies and commodities (FICC) divisions have bared the brunt of front-office redundancies at banks. Barclays and UBS were among the heaviest hit and the cuts are expected to continue, according to consultancy Coalition.

“Looking at commodities trading roles at banks in Singapore, the job market is going the same way as most commodities prices – down,” Dominic Mound, director of search firm Burnham and Partners in Singapore, told us in March. “The banks here are not adding commodities headcount – at best they’re just replacing people who’ve left.”

The departure of some global banks from the market and last year’s commodity financing scandal in China’s Qingdao port have opened up opportunities for Westpac to gain market share, Gardner told Reuters. And if you’re an agricultural commodities specialist, you may want to send your CV to Westpac soon – the firm now plans to enter the sector.

Longer-term career prospects in commodities look more hopeful in Hong Kong. As we noted yesterday, a potential Hong Kong-China commodities trading link could been a boon for jobs in the sector within three to five years.


Matthew Kirkby leaves CIMB to join HSBC as head of its large corporate business in Asia. (Finance Asia)

Chinese brokerage Huatai, benefiting from a hot stock market, is likely to price its IPO at the top of the range. (Wall Street Journal)

China’s investors are fuelling their own version of a dotcom bubble. (Reuters)

Singapore and Japan renew currency swap agreement. (Straits Times)

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