Piper Plans 60 Hires, Including 12 in Fixed Income Brokerage

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Piper Jaffray sees hiring conditions turning more favorable for candidates as the firm moves to add 60 investment bankers and traders to its team over the course of this year.

Those hires will be front-loaded in the current quarter and Piper already has several prospects lined up, says Chief Executive Andrew Duff. The market for talent "is tightening," Duff told analysts on a conference call this week, "and there are multiple firms looking to expand."

The Minneapolis-based bank hired 59 senior professionals during 2009. Company-wide headcount grew by 23 during the fourth quarter to 1,039, although the total was just one more than at the end of 2008.

'We Already Have Some Commitments'

"We've hired approximately 60 in '09 and intend to do a similar amount in 2010," Duff said, according to a transcript of the Jan. 27 fourth-quarter conference call. "It's our intention to try and do that in the front part of the year. There's a natural time in which people might consider transitioning at the beginning quarter of the year. So we are engaged in those conversations. We already have some commitments but I guess it's fair to characterize that... as the early stages."

About a dozen hires are planned within Piper's fixed income institutional brokerage business. That unit added 23 new professionals last year and now numbers 123.

Piper executives don't expect the fixed income market environment to be as strong as it was last year. But they expect global investment banking and equity financing will continue to strengthen. To exploit opportunities outside the U.S., the bank elevated U.S. equities chief Bob Peterson to head of global equities and will move him to London. Another focus for expansion in London is increasing sales of taxable municipal products.

Piper Jaffray had a 60 percent compensation to revenue ratio for 2009 and expects a "similar" ratio this year, according to CFO Deb Schoneman. The pending acquisition of asset management firm Advisory Research, announced in December, should offset upward pressure on the comp ratio from "additional recuriting" and the impact of the UK bonus tax, Schoneman said on the conference call.

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