London’s banking job market has been given a reprieve. Now that Brexit is off until Halloween, recruiters can pretend that everything is sort of normal. Accordingly, there is sort of hiring – although its existence is disputed by some.
“We’re busy enough,” says the head of one fixed income search boutique. “We are busy, but not as busy as last year,” says the head of an investment banking recruitment firm. “It’s a quiet year,” reflects another fixed income recruiter - a year of muted hiring, but for some “pockets of activity.”
If you want a new front office banking job in London before the summer lull you will therefore need to play your hand carefully. 2019 is not a year of plenty.
Find the hiring pockets
The obvious thing is to look for a new job in one of the pockets where hiring is actually taking place. Clearly, you may be hindered by the difficulty of reinventing yourself as something new, but still…
If you’re in M&A, both Goldman Sachs and Bank of America are hiring. Goldman Sachs wants 20 bankers for a new midmarket European investment banking team. Bank of America is hiring 70 managing directors globally. There hasn’t been much action at either bank yet, suggesting most of the new recruits are yet to come.
In fixed income, Credit Agricole is one of the few French banks not in cost cutting mode. Credit Ag has been quietly hiring people like Aude Sauty de Chalon and Andrew Shannon in structured commodity financing and rates sales in London. Mizuho Securities is expected to re-rebuild its London business after ejecting Zara Peerbhoy and her hires from Credit Suisse.
In equities, London banks are trimming their wings after a challenging first quarter and the travails of MiFID II. “No one’s going crazy with hiring,” says one equities headhunter. “There’s just not much going on.” In equities, as in fixed income, the rule of thumb is that trading jobs are holding up and sales jobs are not; blame Brexit for that.
Among European banks, Barclays is unlikely to be such a keen hirer this year, what with its new focus on cutting costs following the deposition of Tim Throsby and his deputy Art Mbafeno. This year's surprise big London recruiter may instead be Deutsche Bank, which appears to have a mandate to hire as it seeks to rebuild businesses affected by last year’s exits.
Call your old boss
With risk aversion high, the preference is for recruiting tried and tested talent. There’s been a spate of people returning to old employers after a brief interlude elsewhere. This has been in evidence at Goldman Sachs (which recently rehired Silvia Biscaldi from Barclays), at Mizuho, and at Deutsche Bank, which seems to be making a habit of rehiring people who left in the past five years.
Shake your tree
Lastly, you may want to shake the rest of your network for a job, too. As banks massage costs ever downward, they're trying to circumvent recruiters and headhunters and to hire people direct. Networking has always been the best route into a new role, and it applies in 2019 more than ever.
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