More job cuts are expected in Hong Kong equities as BNP Paribas becomes the latest bank to wield the axe.
And the equities jobs rout isn’t over yet, warns Matthew Hoyle, a former options trader who now runs headhunters Matthew Hoyle Financial Markets.
High-touch sales and trading jobs are most at risk as banks invest more in electronic trading, he adds. “For example, the BNP cuts are in the ‘old fashioned’ part of its securities business,” says Hoyle.
“BNP is investing in Blockchain technology experts to design, drive and implement digital transformations for its global markets business across all asset classes in Asia Pacific,” says a Hong Kong headhunter who asked not to be named.
BNP Paribas would not comment on its Asian equities headcount.
Equities layoffs have so far been large-scale and focused on a few firms, but recruiters say upcoming redundancies will be spread more thinly across more banks.
“Anyone underperforming in equities, especially in high-touch roles, should be wary of unsolicited calls from HR,” says ex-Jefferies trader Warwick Pearmund, now a senior consultant at search firm at Bo Le Associates in Hong Kong.
He adds: “A head of trading at one bank last week told me that equities trading volumes at his firm are just a third of this time last year. Clearly this is unsustainable if the trend continues. Hong Kong equities seem particularly out of favour at the moment so anyone focused on this space may be at risk.”
Jobs are under threat in equity research – not just in sales and trading. “For a long time research has been a heavily commoditised space with analysts at the major banks in HK all covering many of the same stocks,” says Nikolas Cleverley, a senior consultant at search firm Carraway Group in Hong Kong and an ex-Barclays futures executive. “With unbundling it’s harder than ever to get paid for research as there’s so much of it to choose from.”
Meanwhile, former equities people from banks in Hong Kong face a tough job market and most will need to consider alternative careers.
Only about 10% of the Barclays equities staff who lost their jobs earlier this year have found new work, says the anonymous Hong Kong headhunter.
“J.P. Morgan and Macquarie have picked up people in electronic trading and a few have gone to regional houses – but many are still on the street,” adds another recruiter.
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