It's another bad year to be working in fixed income sales and trading. Credit Suisse is laying people off. So is Deutsche Bank. So too is Morgan Stanley. It's not entirely a one-way street, however. Just as banks are letting people go, headhunters say they're also hiring - selectively.
Take Deutsche Bank. When John Cryan announced his strategy at the end of October, he promised to pull back from all sorts of capital intensive fixed income trading businesses. Since then, we understand that Deutsche has parted company with two people - government bond traders Manjeet Gill and Hesrat Anwar. Gill remains at Deutsche Bank according to the FCA Register, but wasn't on the desk when we called (and wasn't expected back later) and Anwar left on November 17, according to the FCA Register. Steven Li, a rates derivatives trader at the bank, is also understood to have left, and was not available when we called.
Deutsche isn't just clearing out its fixed income traders though - it's also been hiring them. It was only four months ago that Deutsche recruited Kal El-Wahab and Kilian Frensch from Credit Suisse and Brevan Howard for its sterling desk, along with Ryan Sbarra from BlueCrest Capital Management.
A similar pattern is in evidence at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML). The US bank has parted company with Panos Yiasoumi, the former head of European government bond trading at Morgan Stanley, whom it hired to build its business in 2013. The FCA Register shows Yiasoumi leaving in late September. But BAML has been recruiting too - before Yiasoumi left, it hired Stefan Auerweck from Citi as a senior government bond trader back in July.
Meanwhile, there's the curious case of the government bond desk at Credit Suisse. When the bank announced plans to cut 30% of its London headcount in October, it said it was withdrawing from the UK primary dealer market. Headhunters say several of the bank's most senior government bond traders were put at risk, and then granted a reprieve. Top traders like Arnaud Lefebvre are still in place, although insiders say this is just to wind down the books. Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Morgan Stanley isn't commenting on its layoffs, but headhunters say they're due to start early next week. Deutsche and Credit Suisse are expected to start some more wholesale clearing out before bonuses are paid early next year. But the redundancies may not preclude some selective, 'upgrading'. "In this market, there are a lot of people sitting around and doing nothing much at all," says one fixed income headhunter. "If banks have people on their books, they need them to make money."