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Australian Credit Risk Market Hires In and Pays More

Soaring issuance of corporate debt and twitchiness about potential bankruptcies are driving recruitment in the Australian credit risk market. Foreign talent is welcome to apply.

"The market is currently strong for credit risk professionals, especially those with UK and European experience," says Patrick Everest at Sydney-based Jon Michel Executive Search. "Most firms have an appetite for quality hires and will create roles for strong candidates."

Janet X Tam, a recruiter at Michael Page in Sydney, says demand for credit risk professionals exceeds supply, a state of affairs confirmed by Michael Markiewicz, managing director of Carmichael Fisher. "Credit risk has seen an increase in activity and a shortage of people," he says. "Credit people are relied upon more heavily than in the past."

Recruitment of credit specialists is symptomatic of Australia's booming corporate bond market. Corporate bond issuance is expected to hit AU$50bn this year, with a monthly record of AU$9bn set in July alone. Australia's introduction of International Accounting Standards in January 2005 is encouraging companies that previously issued bonds abroad to do so at home. Coca-Cola Amatil issued its first-ever Australian bond in August, for example.

International events such as the bankruptcy of Delphi in the US are also having repercussions in the Australian market. Last week, ratings agency Standard & Poors lowered the rating on eight Australian collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) with exposure to the auto parts supplier.

Everest says demand is particularly strong for mid and senior ranking credit risk specialists with expertise in derivatives and financial institutions, particularly hedge funds.

He says a credit risk specialist with between three and four years' experience at a large investment bank can expect to earn between AU$100,000 (42,000) and AU$150,000 in basic pay, plus a 30% to 50% bonus. For once, pay is relatively similar in London.

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