Top-tier bankers in ‘very high demand,’ says BofA head

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Hiring on Wall Street may not be robust, but if you’re a blue-chip banker, now may be the best time in a long time to be in the market, at least according to one investment banker in the know.

“The best people are in very high demand,” Christian Meissner, head of investment banking at Bank of America, told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday.

Was he spitting a cliché? Aren’t the best always in demand? Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker pushed him, asking just that. No, he said – there’s been a palpable shift from the depths of the crisis when even top talent was forced to the sidelines. Now, as the market stabilizes, suitors abound for the cream of the crop, particularly in the U.S. and within M&A.

Anecdotal evidence lends credence to Meissner’s thoughts. Competition for top talent has become a legitimate concern for some Wall Street banks. Financial News reported late last year that “alarm bells” have been ringing at banks over fear of losing top talent following bonus season, which just got underway. That makes sense. More than 70% of financial firms said they plan to increase recruitment activity in 2014, up from just 11% a year ago, according to the annual Outlook for Investment Banking Services.

So far, UBS is looking to hire a host of bankers, as is Nomura and Citigroup (in Mexico). Meissner said Bank of America has been hiring “selectively.” That’s likely the key term for 2014.

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