Tony Shiret, the 'godfather' of retail sector equity research, who spent 18 years at Credit Suisse before being unceremoniously dumped in June 2011 (an event which Shiret successfully contested on the grounds of age discrimination) is baaack. Financial News reported yesterday that 55 year old Shiret has found a new job at Espirito Santo in London, where he will lead coverage of the general retail sector.
"I last did a day's work in February 2012," says Shiret, who joined RBS's ill-fated equities business after departing from Credit Suisse. "But I knew it was all finished there in December 2011 when George Osborne stood up in the House of Commons and said the bank would be closing its equities division."
How did Shiret, a poster boy for keeping your head up when you're not working, keep in touch with his sector? "I went to a number of company presentations and broadly kept up with company announcements and conference calls," he tells us. "All that sort of stuff - but I haven't been operating like a full time employee without a job. I've just been looking at stuff that interested me."
Did he ever think of doing something completely different? "When you're out for that long, you tend to think of doing a lot different things," Shiret confesses. "But you have to remember that a lot of my time time was taken up by the [age discrimination case]. It was originally scheduled for December 2012 and was then postponed until June 2013." Credit Suisse are now appealing the case, which they lost in July.
Shiret says the market for equity research jobs was "very dead" until recently, especially in the retail research space. "In 2010 and 2011 there were only 10 hires in the retail research market and there were around 40 people who just left the industry."
2013 started off similarly flaccidly, but things are now looking up. "There's a lot more potential retail IPO activity. 2014 should be a much better year for IPOs and for M&A," Shiret predicts.
If you're out of the market for an immense amount of time, networking is supposed to be the best route back in. Shiret says this isn't 100% true though. "When you've been out of the market for a while, you're going to get back in however you can," he says. "I had interviews for all sorts of different reasons - some of them came through headhunters, some came from be contacting people myself.
Shiret concludes that it's definitely harder to find a new job if you're senior, but predicts that improving market conditions will encourage banks to hire senior staff over the next 12 months. "Over the last two years, the trend has been for banks to get rid of experienced staff and to reduce quality of their equity researchers, but as IPO activity increases hiring experienced staff becomes a more attractive proposition."
Before out of work senior researchers get too excited about 2014, however, Shiret cautions that banks have been developing a new business model for making use of expert research services cheaply: "Some banks are buying in experienced researchers on a consultancy basis. I know a few people who are doing that."