If you’re a banker looking to orchestrate a move to the Middle East, now is a good time to start looking. The summer months and Ramadan generally means that few hiring decisions or new jobs are signed off, but there’s usually a sudden flurry of recruitment activity afterwards.
The job market in the region is far from buoyant currently, and a number of investment banks have trimmed back headcount. However, some firms are hiring. Based on conversations with recruiters, or the institutions themselves, here are seven expanding finance firms in the Middle East:
Why?: It’s the new kid on the block – Wells Fargo only launched its 12-strong team, based in the Dubai International Financial Centre and run by Shoar Hassan, in January and has been steadily picking off employees from other international banks in the region since. In July, Raza Naqvi joined as head of sovereign wealth fund coverage from Morgan Stanley, following on from other recruits like Muhammad Khan, who joined from National Bank of Furjairah in May.
Why?: Compared to other international players, Standard Chartered – which makes most of its money from the Middle East and Asia – has a large team in its Dubai office. Last month it hired Sarmad Lone as regional head for global corporates in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan – another bank to capitalise on Morgan Stanley trimming staff in the region. This is the start of the banks plans to “institutionalise” its business in the Middle East by focusing on larger clients and corporates, and is the latest in a line of senior hires this year which include Imran Sarwar as head of origination and client coverage for the UAE and Tom Emmet as its new head of M&A for the MENA region.
Why?: Since bringing in Nabil Al Rantisi as managing director of brokerage in September last year, UAE brokerage Menacorp has been trying grow into one of the largest in the regional broking arena. Brokerages in the Middle East have been folding as trading volumes slumped in the last 18 months. Of the 50 or so that remain, most broking firms in the UAE employ four people, but Menacorp now has 35 after an aggressive hiring spree that is ongoing.
National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD):
Why?: The recruitment of Alex Thursby its new chief executive in April was seen as an attempt to expand beyond the confines of the UAE and into international markets. Thursby led an international expansion at ANZ, where he headed the international and institutional banking division, and NBAD’s push will be focused on the wholesale market, according to recruiters. Last month, it hired Rafi Ahmed to lead its new financial markets division in London and this follows the appointment of Faisal Ahmad as head of investment advisory for its private bank in March. Recruiters suggest that it’s been looking internationally for everything from IT to finance and business change as it gears up for the international push.
Why?: Philip Southwell, a former managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank signed up as CEO for the emerging markets focused bank in July. The plan, he says, is to “continue to grow the business”, the details of which will become more apparent once he gets his feet under the table.
Why?: This Qatari bank stated its ambition late last year to create a large regional investment bank to compete with any in the region. It was initially predicated on a joint venture with EFG-Hermes, but this fell through in May. Now, according to recruitment sources, it’s been scouring for investment bankers with bulge-bracket experience and local connections. Michael Katounas joined from Credit Suisse as head of investment banking in April, expect more recruits to follow.
Why?: The Africa focused private equity firm in Dubai has been building its senior management team, latterly with the recruitment of Bradford Gibbs from Morgan Stanley. The plan now, as Gibbs told us, is to hire at the junior level – investment banking analysts or MBAs should apply.
Why?: While some international wealth managers have given up on the idea of building a large regional team in the Middle East, Coutts has continued to hire. After hiring Michael Dismorr from Deutsche Bank as managing director for the Middle East in April, it still plans to recruit another 13 people – seven of which will be in Dubai and the remainder in London and Geneva.