eFC Briefing: Bucking the Trend

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Fidelity is adding 100 jobs in New York in its customer trading unit. Career experts differ on whether nationalized banks will be able to retain good people. Having scored points by denouncing year-end bonuses, politicians are now eyeing retention payments to brokers in merged institutions.

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Fidelity's agency broker unit, Fidelity Capital Markets, is adding 100 New York slots for traders and support staff for a new trading floor slated for completion in this year's second quarter. It's hiring in equities, fixed income, sales, sales trading and prime brokerage and other areas, Fidelity Capital Markets Services President Mark Haggerty told Advanced Trading, an industry Web site. Key decision-makers are Mathew McConnell, who came aboard in January as senior vice president and head of sales trading for institutional equities, and Mike Cashel, head of Fidelity's institutional equity division

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What does nationalizing a bank do to the careers and compensation outlooks of professionals who work there? Most industry headhunters foresee opportunities and top talent migrating toward strong boutiques and away from large institutions where the government may come to dominate pay and decision-making. A minority view is that the government will stay its hand, leaving rescued bulge-bracket banks to operate in a manner similar to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which haven't been overly stifled since becoming wards of their regulator last September.

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All-but-nationalized Royal Bank of Scotland will get further government aid after reporting the biggest annual net loss ever for a U.K.-based company, and will withdraw 45 percent of capital from its global banking and markets unit - a likely harbinger of further large-scale layoffs. But the draconian restrictions on pay and everyday business activities that RBS workers labor under should not be seen as a precursor for U.S. banks that come under government ownership, Wall Street headhunter Jay Gaines tells eFinancialCareers News.

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Washington now smells blood in the water in relation to retention payments for brokers in merged institutions. A Wachovia spokesman told the Washington Post "the public's attitude toward pay in the industry" helped convince Wachovia (now part of Wells Fargo) to cancel payouts it had expected to make to induce brokers to stay on after the merger. Retention payments from Morgan Stanley and Citigroup to brokers in their soon-to-be-combined wealth management businesses and from Bank of America to top-producing Merrill Lynch brokers are drawing lawmakers' attention too.

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Are Wall Street women disappearing because of legitimate layoffs, or are they targeted because they're outside the old boys' network, asserted their rights, or even purely due to gender? Four former Citigroup managers are the latest women to file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but Forbes has interviewed women at three other investment banks who say companies are using the recession as an excuse to discriminate.

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The devolution of UBS's investment bank continues. UBS AG's second ouster of a group chief executive in less than two years could soon be followed by top-level change within the investment banking unit, the New York Post reports. Unnamed sources told the Post that "a mutiny is brewing" within the investment bank, aimed at its head, Jerker Johansson. For its part, UBS has denied rumors that Johansson is leaving.

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