Want a job in banking? Want a job in banking before the end of August? Want a job in banking even though you're currently out of work and struggling to get motivated? According to banking recruiters, these are the categories of job banks are particularly busting to fill during what remains of the summer.
Compliance jobs cover a multitude of sins - you can be a compliance professional who monitors emails at Goldman Sachs, you can be a compliance professional who makes sure traders don't deal in forbidden stocks on their own accounts, or you can be a compliance professional who makes sure the Chinese walls between different banking businesses are adhered to.
The most interesting compliance job is, however, that of the product-focused 'compliance advisor.' As close to a front office compliance role as it gets, compliance advisors work with traders to structure trades which will be as profitable as possible within the confines of banking regulations.
Compliance advisors are hot, declares James Findlay, head of the compliance business at recruitment firm Selby Jennings. "This is where we're seeing a lot of movement now," Findlay says. Predictably, banks are fussy about who they hire: for a senior compliance advisory role you'll need to have similar experience and product expertise. Top salaries range from £90k-£120k, plus a bonus, Findlay adds.
Banks aren't having a great time in commodities trading. Banks are under regulatory pressure to pull out of physical commodities trading and according to research firm Coalition, banks' commodities revenues fell 25% in the first half of this year. Banks are responding by pulling back - Barclays has cut its front office commodities headcount by 18% in the past year and J.P. Morgan has put its physical commodities trading business up for sale.
In the circumstances, it takes a daring candidate to accept a commodities job in an investment bank. Given the choice, most people would prefer to work in commodities trading houses.
This is causing issues for banks, says Kumaran Surenthirathas, head of front office hiring at recruitment firm Eximius Group. “The problem is that commodities trading houses are a lot more desirable than banks; they have less restrictions around pay structure and there is more certainty about their commitment to commodities trading than at the banks presently. As a result, banks are struggling to hire experienced commodities traders and are having to think outside of the box during their recruitment process," he says.
We've already noted the resurgence in equity research hiring, but it's worth reiterating. Having slashed equity researchers in 2012 and early 2013, banks are wondering if they've overdone it.
“Banks are hiring in equity research. As ever, researchers specializing in oil and bank stocks are the most sought after," says Zaki Ahmed, director at Financial Search."Many teams have been cut to the bare minimum and banks have analysts covering far too many stocks. Ideally banks would like to hire before September – anyone who leaves a bank now won’t start until the beginning of November and bonuses are paid in January, so it makes sense to get people on board as soon as possible.”
European M&A isn't having a good year. At the end of June 2013, the value of targeted merger and acquisition deals in Europe was at its lowest level since 2009 according to research firm Dealogic. However, recruiters say the dire market hasn't dissuaded banks from urgently wanting to hire junior M&A professionals.
"M&A hiring is picking up," says Logan Naidu, chief executive of recruitment firm Dartmouth Partners. "The attrition rate for junior M&A bankers has been high and it seems that banks just didn't hire enough people over the past few years - there's a general shortage of junior M&A talent."
It's not so much that banks are frantically trying to fill trading jobs, as that when they do have a trading job to fill, they're struggling to fill it says Surenthirathas at Eximius. Commodities trading jobs are the hardest to fill (point 2), but people aren't exactly queuing to fill jobs trading other types of product.
The problem is mismatched expectations. "Successful traders require a guaranteed bonus to compensate them for the P&L that they have accumulated in the year to date," says Surenthirathas. Banks won't pay these guarantees and therefore traders won't move.
Hiring traders who are out of the market and who therefore don't care about compensatory guarantees would seem to be a solution. But banks won't do this either. "Banks are naturally cautious of hiring traders who have been let go from their roles during the recent market conditions, fearing that they have lost money. Therefore we are increasingly seeing stalemates between candidates and clients which is making for difficult hiring conditions,” Surenthirathas says.
If you're a successful trader who's willing to move into a new job without demanding a guaranteed bonus, banks will be unusually eager to hire you now. However, if you're a successful trader who's wary of moving into a new job in August with no real assurance of being paid come early January, we don't blame you...