What would conceivably inspire someone to work in commodities at UBS?
UBS is getting back into commodities! After deciding to close a lot of its commodities business in 2008, it's getting back in! It's also hiring lots of people. According to Bloomberg it wants to hire another 40 people over the next 18-24 months. According to the Financial Times it will be prioritising agricultural commodities.
All of this is terribly exciting, but given UBS's vacillation about commodities in the past, it may need to pay rather a lot to attract anyone. And UBS doesn't have much flexibility on cost.
"There will always be people who'll want to go there, but the question is whether they're any good," says the head of one commodities search boutique. "To attract anyone halfway decent, they're going to offer a cast iron guarantee for 2011."
Given that UBS's previous head of EMEA energy trading is now ensconced in Deutsche Bank Canada, UBS has had to hire some new leaders.
They include Dylan Morgan, who until very recently was at Goldman Sachs, suggesting UBS may have offered a large package to attract him.
UBS's renewed enthusiasm for commodities comes as doubts are being raised about its strategy in fixed income. Yesterday, a report from Morgan Stanley predicted that UBS could "substantially rethink" rebuilding its fixed income business next year.
In fairness to UBS, however, it's not the only bank to bounce in and out of businesses. Credit Suisse got out of distressed debt in 2008 and got in in again in October 2010.