Remember late 2012/early 2013? All those months ago, Citigroup indulged in some equity derivatives hiring. It recruited Lionel Fournier from Bank of America as its EMEA head of equity derivatives structuring. It recruited Remi Genlot from Bank of America as head of multi-asset solutions. And it solicited Eric Personne (also from Bank of America) as head of its EMEA multi-asset business.
Twelve to eighteen months later, all that poaching from Bank of America seems to be paying off. When Citi announced its results this week, chief executive Michael Corbat cited the equity derivatives business as one of its stand-out performers. Derivatives helped boost Citi's equities sales and trading revenues by 13% in the first quarter, said Corbat. "We’ve been building up the sales and trading capabilities there. We’ve called it out in the past as an area of emphasis," he added. "I think we’re making progress and the investments that we’ve made are starting to pay benefit."
Citi's good fortune in equity derivatives was in stark contrast to JPMorgan's disastrous quarter. Jamie Dimon specifically attributed JPM's 3% decline in equities revenues to a poor three months for its derivatives business. Like Citi, Credit Suisse said it had a good start to the year in equity derivatives, but this seems atypical. Equity derivatives headhunters tell us the sector is in the grip of general gloom, with revenues down 10-15% and redundancies likely.