Continuing to hire in fixed income currencies and commodities (FICC) last year may not have been a pointless exercise after all.
Firstly, there's the fact that Credit Suisse, which announced plans in March last year to hire 130 people (mostly in FICC), was the only bank to increase overall revenues in this division in Q1 2011.
BNP Paribas was also bolstering its fixed income headcount around this time last year. It's just released its Q1 results and, while its 12.9% year-on-year decline in revenues in this area might not look great, it's still decidedly better than most banks' performance in this area.
The bank says that it's seen sustained volumes and a broad diversity of issuers within credit and rates, and that demand for energy and commodity derivatives has been bolstered by rising oil prices.
Still, despite all the hiring last year in fixed income and structured finance, operating expenses in CIB are down 2.6% compared to Q1 last year. And the bank was paying badly at that point.
There's no mention on pay in the Q1 report, but BNP Paribas' 2010 remuneration paper suggests it's now being more generous.
Average salaries within the corporate and investment bank (CIB) rose from €89k in 2009 to €141k in 2010. The mean bonus payment was stable at €290k, meaning total comp increased to from an average of €380k to €431k.
At first glance its deferral schedule - 73% spread over seven dates over the course of three years - looks punitive. However, the bank is now making bonus payments in March/April and a further €270m will be paid in September, meaning an actual deferral rate of 46%.
BNP Paribas has also been hiring for its equities and investment banking team. The results don't look so good here - an 18.1% decline in revenues, although this is compared to the "best quarterly performance in history" during Q1 last year.