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Tough times: investment bankers are switching to wealth management

In 2009, when investment banks were making thousands of redundancies, wealth management was considered something of a sanctuary from the cuts. We're not quite back to those bleak times, but in the wake of heavy job cuts, more people are now considering the switch.

Both Credit Suisse and UBS have unveiled plans for extensive job cuts in recent weeks. Wealth management certainly isn't sheltered from these plans, but it's less affected than investment banking divisions.

UBS has ruled out redundancies to financial advisers in its wealth management Americas division, and also hired 100 people into its Asian private bank over the last two months.

Even better (depending on your point of view), according to reports, UBS also recently transferred 280 investment bankers across to its wealth management division. Barclays Wealth, which is still heavily recruiting this year, is also encouraging people to switch into private banking from other industries and sectors through its Embark programme.

Generally, more investment bankers are looking towards the sector, suggest recruiters.

"If they're coming from an advisory function, investment bankers are shrewd, have great financial product knowledge and are generally good salesmen - it therefore makes sense for them to switch across," says Christian Sulger Buel, director of wealth management headhunters Sulger Buel & Co. "Generally, the type of advice they can offer is more suited to entrepreneurial, rather than traditional, clients. The switch has become increasingly common in recent months, however."

In the larger wealth managers, where pressure to cross-sell products from other business areas is increasingly common, it's perhaps easier to switch sectors than into boutique operations.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks, however, is pay. Most investment bankers are demanding a base salary of between 150-175k, suggests Stephen Heal, CEO of private banking recruiters HB International. If they're relatively senior, investment bankers are taking a pay cut, but few private banks will pay so much for someone without direct industry experience, he says.

"You also have to question their motivation for making the switch - Are they burnt out? Can they simply not find investment banking work and will move back as soon as the market turns? Plus, an accomplished career in corporate finance or M&A is no guarantee of success in private banking," he adds.

AUTHORPaul Clarke
  • Ja
    7 October 2011

    I have looked at the EMBARK programme as a potential entry to PWM (with a significant paycut based on 55k), having been ACA qualified for 10 years. I have read about the changes they say they are trying to make in this and IFA profession (more substance, not just sales focus) and that is what appeals to me. I realise you need to sell in the industries but does anyone know if the proposed changes are achievable?

  • Sa
    12 September 2011

    Robert- im in the same boat. Some times weeks go by and i have no interviews lined up. Recruiters will call you about roles but thats it- no feed back. My last interview was a months ago with a firm who i initially interviewed back in Feb. When i met with them recently, i was later told that the firm put hiring freezes on. Gutted, really gutted as i prepared (as if preparing for an exam) the day before. There are days when i really get bad stomach pains at the thought of having to look for jobs as i know the answer will be NO. Can't sleep at nights, really stresses out.

  • Bo
    Bobby Ewing
    12 September 2011

    IB@ are you hell bent of attracting insults? please keep your ignorant comments to your self. The public use this site to try and find useful info from one another. It's not for morons like you who have nothing better to do.

    Feel sorry for your wife fella!

  • Br
    British Indian
    10 September 2011

    Robert I sympathise and empathise with you my friend. Sincerely hope that you find that great job. Never give up mate!

  • Ja
    4 September 2011

    I have been looking since May and have had 3 interviews since and cant get an assistant role anywhere in the country, its very difficult out there.

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