"The City is shrinking and equities staff are the most vulnerable"

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If you still have a job in the City of London after the 2019 bloodletting, you can count yourself lucky. If you have managed to hold onto it by the end of the year, you will be luckier still.

After a nine month period which began with the cuts at Nomura and segued into cuts at Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, Citi and SocGen, headhunters say London is awash with unwanted 'bankers.'

"There are already a lot of people on the market," says one headhunter, "and there are almost certainly more rounds coming soon. It's just a perfect storm - Brexit, Trump, MiFID II, and trade wars. For most banks, 2019 has been a bit of a write off. The start to the year was so crap in equities that I don't think it can be clawed back."

"The City is shrinking and shrinking," said another. "Equities staff are the most vulnerable. - Only the top two or three equities franchises make money. The rest are just in it to keep their relationships with clients and they're being squeezed by the electronic brokerages, which have much lower costs."

The top three players in global equities trading are Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan. In the past week, Citi - which ranked fifth in the second quarter, has started ejecting some equities staff at the end of their consultation periods. As we reported last week, several of Citi's London exits came as a surprise, and included staff previously considered invulnerable. Headhunters say they also included the likes of Peter Larkin, a transport analyst, and Heath Jansen, head of research for CEEMEA.  Neither may responded to a request to comment.

It's not just equities staff who've been let go. There are reports of banks ditching senior fixed income staff too. Alex Price, RBC's head of FX sales EMEA, who joined from Deutsche Bank in 2014, is said to have left quietly last week. Neither Price nor RBC responded to a request to comment.

While most banks are cutting, who's hiring? Equities headhunters point to the likes of Berenberg, which having made its own equities cuts in 2018 is quietly adding again. Last month, the German prive bank recruited Jason Rand from Mirabaud as its London-based global head of electronic trading and distribution.

In fixed income, there are suggestions of an unlikely presence on the hiring scene. Deutsche Bank is said to be "interviewing everyone they can get their hands on," particularly in the credit trading space. "They've lost so many people that I suspect they're close to minimum staffing levels for compliance purposes," says one headhunter. People who are out of the market and therefore cost effective, are preferred. 

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Photo by Marc Najera on Unsplash

 

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