If you’re a 40-something salesperson or trader fearful of losing your job, don’t be. You might spend a 15 months tending the garden or playing golf or running a pub, but they’ll want you back one day.
Rates trading is a case in point. Research firm Coalition calculates that banks’ revenues from trading G10 rates products fell 51% between the first quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2014. By early 2015 senior rates salespeople were as popular as a meat sausage at a vegan picnic. Banks like Credit Suisse set about culling their rates desks; directors and managing directors flooded onto the market.
Two years later, times have changed. Coalition says G10 rates revenues rose 26% last year. Most banks reported higher revenues from their rates desks again in the first quarter of this year, and those that didn’t (like Barclays) are trying to do something about it. The unwanted experienced rates professionals are all the rage again.
Credit Suisse’s cast-offs are a case in point. Almost all have found new positions in banks. Mark Tieranan, the former head of rates sales moved quickly to Deutsche. Adam Bryant, Ben Harvey and others went to HSBC. Mark Mueller and others went to UBS. Only a handful have remained aloof from the banking market.- Ernest van Vredenburch, the former head of EMEA macro sales at Credit Suisse, joined Quant Insight, a hedge fund, in February, as did Huw Roberts, a former director in rates sales; Sergio Puglisi, the former head of South European sales at CS joined brokerage firm MINT and is now doing an MBA.
With Credit Suisse’s rates sales team a microcosm of the market as a whole, headhunters say senior rates talent is now hard to find. “There’s just no free capacity any more,” says one London headhunter, speaking off the record. “If you want to hire a good person, you can’t pick them up from out of the market – this is why most of the recent hiring has been bank to bank.”
Accordingly, as UBS looks at adding to the rates business it decimated in 2012, it’s hiring out of Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs, in turn is said to have hired Cosimo Codacci-Pisanelli from Barclays as it looks to fill holes in London. Buybacks are becoming common: with Barclays and others hiring, no one wants to lose the staff they’ve already got. “The teams are so much smaller that there’s no ability to absorb a change in business any more,” says a NY headhunter, also speaking off the record.
Rates professionals’ reprieve should give hope to traders and salespeople in other asset classes. – Particularly as it’s taken place against at a background of ‘electronification.’ Between 2012 and 2015, the proportion of standard interest rate swaps traded electronically went from around 20% of the market to around 70% according to the Bank for International Settlements. This hasn’t dissuaded banks from stocking up on experienced salespeople as rates revenues rise again. – You might fall out of fashion in finance for a while, but you won’t necessarily fall out of fashion forever.