Hiring Slows, But Continues, in Corporate Banking

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Hidden among the headlines about upheaval on Wall Street is good news for some job seekers: Banks are hiring in corporate banking, although at a slower pace than in past years.

Spherion Regional Managing Director David Bell describes the job market as "not that robust," though there is demand for positions such as corporate loan officer, commercial product manager and treasury staff. Simon Lewis, executive director of the banking and financial services division at Michael Page International, adds the market is "a lot tighter in terms of new opportunities ... Many firms are in a holding pattern."

Many large financial institutions are reeling from their exposure to sub-prime mortgage markets, taking billions of dollars in write-downs and laying off thousands of employees. However, the corporate banking business continues to generate decent returns and companies are eager to attract and retain employees with experience in areas such as corporate relationship management.

"We are still busy," Lewis tells us. "There obviously is a huge influx of talent into the market."

A director-level relationship manager can command a yearly salary of $300,000 to $450,000, with associates getting $125,000 to $200,000, according to Lewis, who expects the job market to improve in the second quarter.

Corporate loan officers, product managers and treasury staff are commanding salaries of between $75,000 and $115,000, Bell says. He points out that banks are competing as fiercely as ever for corporate clients. "This continues to be a very stable to single-digit growth business," he notes.

People who have lost jobs in the mortgage area have been able to transfer to corporate areas if they have a breadth of experience in banking, recruiters say. "Clearly, there are smart people who can do other jobs," Lewis observes.

To be sure, banks continue to hire in the mortgage area for specialized positions such as foreclosure specialists and people who do loan workouts. Notes Bell: "Sadly, the collections departments of banks have increased."

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