There's not an investment banking hiring freeze (for now)

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After last week's redundancies at both BarCap and Credit Suisse it's easy to jump to the assumption that a) these are the first of many and b) banks have already stopped hiring.

The first point is distinctly possible (Morgan Stanley analysts have suggested that a further 600 roles could go at BarCap alone this year), and a number of banks have been jacking up costs without seeing much in the way of revenue increases.

However, while hiring has undoubtedly slowed, but it's not completely dead in the water. Even Credit Suisse says it's still hiring in fixed income flow sales as well as private banking and IT functions despite the job cuts, and BarCap still has work to do on its equities build-out.

It's definitely more gloomy, but there some points to consider:

It's much harder to get sign off for new roles, but it's still happening

Seasonal factors aside, it's now becoming increasingly difficult for banks to justify new front office hires. As a result, sign off has to come from on high.

"At the very least banks need approval from management, but increasingly this has to come from a board level," says Zaheer Ebrahim at Kennedy Associates.

Some banks are still hiring

According to various recruitment sources, banks with still a relatively aggressive appetite to hire include Nomura, Daiwa Capital Markets (which is expanding in equities), RBC Capital (which has been building its fixed income team) and UBS, while Credit Suisse, Citigroup (which has recently hired for equities) and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are all cautiously making hires.

There are still gaps to fill

The healthy level of recruitment in the first half of this year has meant that a number of key personnel are still missing and these are not roles banks are willing to leave unfilled, suggests Ebrahim.

"Some banks do have hiring freezes on, but even these are recruiting in some way for either business critical replacement hires or pre-approved job slots that they've yet to fill. Some roles have been open for the last three or four months - due to either a talent shortage in that area or individuals being counter-offered - and they remain so," he says.

"The outlook is definitely more conservative, but there hasn't been a kneejerk reaction to strategic hiring or replacing - there remains liquidity in the mid to senior market and you will see hires made in August through to the rest of the year," adds Russell Clarke, partner of Figtree Search. "Banks are not about to sit on their hands on key hires when there is a business opportunity to take ground from the competition."

There are still hot(ish) sectors

The FICC frenzy has long since past - in fact it could now be a prime target for any future cuts - but new roles are emerging in other areas of the business, suggest headhunters.

"We're still getting a number of mandates across equity research and cash equities sales and trading roles within within both bulge bracket and boutique firms," says Jonathan Evans, chairman at headhunters Sammons Associates.

"There are still new roles emerging in structured products, electronic trading and delta one products, but these are selective," adds Ebrahim.

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