If you are of an anxious disposition, a job in Asian equities is probably not for you right now – unless you happen to work for Credit Suisse.
A number of banks have been culling jobs from their underperforming equity sales and trading teams in Asia, particularly in Hong Kong. Standard Chartered started cutting 12 months ago and now Barclays, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas are following suit. In between, the axe has also swung on equities staff at CLSA, Nomura, CIMB and Jefferies.
But Credit Suisse was hiring in Asian equities last year and may make modest additions to its headcount in 2016, according to Hong Kong headhunters. “It’s a great client franchise in Asian equities, and on the electronic side CS is far more advanced than anyone else,” says former trader Matthew Hoyle, owner of search firm Matthew Hoyle Financial Markets.
Credit Suisse can afford to buck the job-cutting trend. Net revenue from Asian equity sales and trading was up 35% year-on-year, from CHF1.4bn (US$1,392m) in 2014 to CHF1.9bn (US$1,884m) in 2015, according to the bank’s fourth quarter earnings report released earlier this month. By contrast, Asian income from underwriting and advisory fell 26% over the same period, while in fixed income sales and trading it declined 7%.
Which teams was Credit Suisse building last year? “The electronic equities business (AES) has been hiring in Asia and has been very successful under the stewardship of Hani Shalabi,” says a headhunter with knowledge of the firm, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The cash equities business run by Tish Ghosh has also done exceptionally well.”
Helman Sitohang, Asia Pacific CEO of Credit Suisse, said earlier this month that the current volatile market conditions in Asia have enabled the firm to gain market share in areas such as equities. He has also been talking to “interesting talent”.
Does this mean Credit Suisse could be a new home for a few of the Asian traders recently made redundant by Barclays? “No, I doubt CS will be taking any Barclays folks – I don’t think they’re good enough,” says the anonymous recruiter.
More broadly, Asia appears to be one of the safest and best remunerated places to be based at Credit Suisse. The 4,000 job cuts Credit Suisse is making globally won’t affect Asia, and neither will the smaller global bonus pool, according to Sitohang. “Good bonus numbers are being discussed at Suisse in Asia,” adds a Singapore-based headhunter.
Private banking is now Credit Suisse’s main recruitment focus in Asia as CEO Tidjane Thiam attempts to capture more business from the region’s entrepreneurs. By 2018 the bank wants to add more than 270 new relationship managers in Asia, taking its RM headcount to 800 from 524 currently.
Credit Suisse would not comment on its hiring in Asian equities.
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