It's been a bad year so far for Swiss investment banks. The appreciation of the Swiss franc against the euro has prompted Credit Suisse to announce additional cost cuts. UBS may yet declare something similar. Both banks are due to report their fourth quarter results this week. In the meantime, one has been hiring for its investment bank and one hasn't.
Registrations with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to date in 2015 suggest that UBS is having a hiatus when it comes to investment banking hires in London. Only one new investment banker has been registered with the Swiss firm since January, and that's Ian Carnegie-Brown, the Credit Suisse consumer banker poached by UBS in September 2014. So far this year, UBS's other hires have all been in is wealth management business.
Credit Suisse, on the other hand, is hiring for its investment bank, albeit very selectively. Recent registrations with the FCA suggest it's hiring a few exceptional people into exceptional areas.
The biggest Credit Suisse hire that no one's been talking about is James Coulson, a senior compliance professional. Coulson joined Credit Suisse from SocGen, where he'd worked since 1998 - latterly as the head of UK compliance and global markets compliance. Coulson's arrival seems likely to shake up Credit Suisse's London compliance function.
CS has also been hiring into its markets business. HEC Graduate Frédéric Besson just joined the Swiss bank's fund-linked derivatives desk full time after a succession of internships. French Wunderkind, Aurélien Gleyze (ex-Sciences Po Paris, ex-Ecole Centrale Paris) has just joined Credit Suisse as an FX eCommerce analyst.
Three hires don't make a recruitment spree. Credit Suisse's selective pickings reflect this year's hot areas (compliance, exchange traded funds and FX automation). They also reflect this year's hot profiles (extremely senior with exemplary experience or extremely junior with exemplary academics).
Three hires are at least better than (almost none). UBS declined to comment about the lack of recruitment in its investment bank this year. It may well have new recruits in the pipeline - it's reportedly rebuilding its European leveraged finance business for example. But for the moment, this year's meagre recruits at UBS and Credit Suisse indicate that Swiss bank's don't have a big appetite for new hires. And that's bad news if you're hoping to find a new investment banking job in the City of London.