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European Mortgage-Backed Hiring Outpaces U.S.

The U.S. mortgage backed securitization market may be faltering, but recruiters say opportunities remain in Europe. Speaking several languages helps.

"The U.S. market is going through a downturn, but there's still growth potential for the securitization market in Continental and Eastern Europe," says Ted Tracey, a headhunter in the area. "It's difficult to pinpoint a bank that won't be looking to hire commercial mortgage-backed staff next year."

"The U.S. market is still quite robust, but our perception is that there's much more hiring activity in Europe," confirms Nicola Cadwallader, a securitization specialist at London search firm Hogarth Davies Lloyd.

If the U.S. market is maturing as it approaches its tenth birthday, the European market is slightly more sprightly. A report by Barclays Capital suggests European issuance grew 30 percent in the first half of this year, to $28.3 billion. The U.S. market grew 25 percent during the same period, to $90.5 billion.

But while the U.S. market appears to be slowing down, with banks like Lehman cutting jobs as the U.S. real estate boom falters, growth in Europe is expected to accelerate. Germany in particular is proving a fertile source of deals.

In London, ABN AMRO, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs are said to be among the banks looking for replacement hires, while recruiters say Bank of America is among those building in the area.

"There will be gaps for good loan originators, particularly with Continental European experience or strong relationships with UK clients that have activities on the continent," says Tracey. Total compensation for a first year vice president in the mortgage backed market is in the region of $600,000, he says.

Where does this leave U.S. mortage securitization staff at the likes of Lehman? Unfortunately, Tracey says opportunities to emigrate are limited: "U.S. houses in particular prefer to move people internally."

He says the U.S. bankers who are best placed to move will be bi- or even tri-lingual. "If a guy in the U.S. is fluent in two or even three languages, I'd be much more confident of placing him over here."

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