Nomura’s fixed income professionals have good reason to fear displacement

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When Steve Ashley was made global head of fixed income at Nomura in January, we suggested it may not be a good thing. Three months later, Nomura got rid of 30 fixed income managers, including Kieran Higgins, co-head of fixed income for EMEA and Peter Hornick, head of fixed income sales for the Americas. “These changes will help drive the next phase of our growth in global fixed income,” Ashley said at the time.

Four months on, it emerged today that Georges Assi, who was Ashley’s deputy and was pre-dated as head of fixed income for EMEA, is also leaving. Euroweek suggests Assi’s departure is voluntary: he’s taking a career break, it says.

Nevertheless, it’s all a little disconcerting if you’re a fixed income professional at Nomura – particularly if you’re a fixed income professional who, like Assi, came from Lehman. Headhunters say Ashley has been busy hiring a lot of his former colleagues from RBS. “There’s been a bit of an influx of RBS people at a senior level in Nomura,” says one. “It’s across the board – in sales and trading.”

Recently publicized RBS hires at Nomura include a team of equity researchers (admittedly not in fixed income), an Asian emerging markets head and an FX trading team in Dubai. Having dispensed with some of Nomura’s existing fixed income staff, Ashley also appears to have been instrumental in hiring Antony Foster from J.P. Morgan as head of G10 spot trading in EMEA and Tim Owens from J.P. Morgan as global head of FX structuring (following the departure of Mark Stafford, Nomura’s previous head of FX structuring, who came from Lehman Brothers).

It looks a lot like a major changing of the guard as Ashley stamps his authority on the fixed income business at Nomura. Assi could be seen as the final Lehman leaf to fall. On the other hand, his departure is likely to leave other ex-Lehman professionals at Nomura in EMEA more exposed.

What are their options? Mark Stafford has just started working for Investec. Louis Curran, Nomura’s former MD of hedge fund FX sales (who joined from Citi rather than Lehman) remains unregistered with the FSA. Peter Larsson, who left along with Curran and Stafford (and had joined from RBS) also appears out of the market still.

Who else is hiring in fixed income sales and trading?

Fixed income sales and trading headhunters say there is some hiring appetite elsewhere. Disconcerted Nomura people do have options. “Lloyds is quietly hiring still and Knight Capital has capacity to expand,” says one. “HSBC has also picked up some rates traders recently,” he adds.

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