Actually, all sorts of people are leaving Macquarie Capital in London. Is this a sign?

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Maquarie's European investment banking businesses have had a challenging few years. Chief executives have come and gone. Jobs have been cut and the bank has been accused of seriously underpaying its staff. Earlier this year, analysts at UBS said Macquarie should close or sell its investment banking arm (Macquarie Capital) and its trading arm (Macquarie Securities) on the grounds that they were a drag on the parent company. However, both Macquarie Capital and Macquarie Securities managed to significantly increase their profitability in the first half of 2013 (ending September).

Macquarie's most recent results show that for the past year, headcount globally at both businesses has been super stable. Macquarie Securities headcount in September 2013 was 1,038 - up one from 1,037 in September 2012. At Macquarie Capital, headcount globally was 1,117 - up three on the previous year.

Nonetheless, staff in London seem to be leaving. Financial News reported this week that both Anthony Isaacs, head of equity capital markets in Europe, and Allan Bertie, a senior MD in the industrials, communications and sponsors team, have left the bank. Our own research suggests that they're not the only ones. Willian Kennish, former head of TMT M&A at Macquarie Capital left in February and recently resurfaced at TAP Advisors. Charles Nelson, former head of syndicate and corporate access, left in May along with Jeffrey Auld, an MD in corporate finance focused on oil and gas. Ed Robinson, a senior sales trader, left in October along with Duncan Hobbs, a senior metals analyst, who left for Noble. Haaris Zafaar, an MD in metals and mining hired from RBS in 2011, left last month too.

Various analyst- and associate-level employees at Macquarie Capital have also left the bank since the summer.

That many of the people quitting Macquarie haven't turned up elsewhere suggests the departures may not have been entirely voluntary.

Macquarie declined to comment on whether it's been culling/upgrading. However, the UK's FCA register, which tracks employees performing 'registered functions' in London, shows that overall headcount has remained fairly stable this year, at 192 - down just six from 198 in January. Our research suggests that several of these people have simply been transferred to offices in Hong Kong and South Africa rather than left the bank entirely.

Like Nomura, Macquarie Capital is understood to be refocusing its business on several core sectors. For Macquarie, these are infrastructure, natural resources (metals and mining and oil and gas), industrials and financial institutions (FIG). This helps explain the departure of William Kennish. However, it does less to explain the exits of Auld, Zafaar and Hobbs. Macquarie seems to be losing the precise people it might like to keep hold of.



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