There's been a seasonal upturn in banks' hiring plans for front office jobs in sales, trading and M&A. Recruiters say the pace of interviewing has picked up dramatically in the past few weeks.
"We're very busy now," says Michael Karp, New York City-based chief executive of global search firm Options Group. "There's a lot more interviewing than this time last year and a lot more offers are being made, although we won't see people taking them up until bonus payments clear in February. Once that happens, we're expecting hiring across credit and electronic trading and continued moves from the sell side to the buy side."
Andrew Breach, director of global banking and asset management at Page Executive in London, says banks' demand for junior M&A staff has risen dramatically in recent months. "There's a lot of hiring in M&A and investment banking coverage. I'd judge that there are around 50 openings for junior analysts and associates in London at the moment. The focus is on hiring ACAs from the Big Four accounting firms."
After a strong year for equities in 2013, Zaki Ahmed, director at Financial Search, says equity research hiring has finally picked up at a senior level and there are 20 or more top -level vacancies in London. "There are a lot more experienced roles on offer than there were this time last year. There's more confidence and because teams have shrunk considerably there's appetite for senior staff. As things pick up post-bonuses, good candidates are going to get multiple offers."
It's not only front office recruitment that seems to be picking up. Yesterday Astbury Marsden, a predominantly middle and back office recruiter, estimated that 4,700 entirely new banking jobs had been created in London since December.
Headhunters said the shape of 2013 bonuses is slowly becoming apparent. For example, Credit Suisse appears to have paid its equities staff well, while Citi appears to have paid its equities staff badly - headhunters say they're receiving a lot of calls from disgruntled Citi staff.
Elsewhere, JPMorgan and Goldman bankers are said to be "generally happy" with their payments. "It is what it is," says one headhunter. "No one else is paying any more."
Bloomberg is reporting today that bonuses for rates traders have been cut by 15% at Bank of America. As we reported last week, Yunho Song, head of the rates and currencies business at Bank of America mysteriously left the business just before bonus time.
The biggest exodus is expected to come from Barclays, which headhunters say is due to announce its bonuses this Friday. Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins renounced his £2.7m bonus yesterday. Barclays' fixed income bankers may well find their bonuses similarly absent - although they won't have given them up of their own accords.
The one thing that is likely to be absent in this year's post-bonus hiring round are big upticks in pay. Headhunters say the days of handsome pay rises as an incentive to switch jobs are over - it's all about moving to a new firm to escape cutbacks or increase prestige.