This isn’t the best moment in time to lose your senior equities sales job with an investment bank. Although equities revenues are expected to increase in the second half of 2017, reduced commissions mean equities businesses are still a lot less profitable than they once were. 55% of clients with large accounts traded equities electronically last year. The market is awash with old school equities salespeople whose services have been superannuated by those of a younger generation who sell the execution capabilities of electronic systems rather than individual trading ideas. McKinsey & Co say equities sales and trading headcount is down 40% globally since 2011.
This isn’t to say, however, that if you lose your equities sales job now you’ll never find a new one. It is to say that it might take a while, and you might need to look beyond the big banks.
Two highly experienced London equities salespeople have just shown how it’s done. One’s got a job on the buy-side. The other’s got a job with a Swiss broking firm.
Nick Lacey left Nomura in May 2016 after the Japanese bank closed its European equities business. Following 13 months out of the market, he’s just resurfaced as head of sales at Cambridge-based Insignis Asset Management. Lacy has pedigree: he was Nomura’s head of EMEA salestrading for two years. Before that, he was head of EMEA salestrading at Citi and Merrill Lynch.
Colin Robb was a director of EMEA sales trading at HSBC global banking and markets. He left in February, around the time HSBC was cutting costs in its equities business. Robb too has pedigree: before HSBC he was an MD at J.P.. Morgan and a head of U.S. and U.K. sales trading at French bank Natixis. After five months out, he’s just found a job as an equities sales trader at Mirabaud Group, a Swiss brokerage.
Robb and Lacey should give hope to other senior equities professionals who don’t want to become pub landlords. With luck, you’ll find a big job on the buy-side. Failing that, you can try at a niche broking firm.