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Banks eyeing foreign staffers as workforce demands outpace supply

Compliance and technology are the two hottest areas on Wall Street, and it’s not even close. Unfortunately for big banks, their dire need for experienced talent is being met by a rather paltry supply. U.S. firms are now employing two options to fill the gaps: overpaying for local talent and increasing their reliance on foreign workers.

In compliance, many full-time employees are taking home north of $200,000 a year, with opportunities on both the buy and sell-side. Some banks are just “throwing money” at experienced middle office employees, according to one lawyer. The landscape isn’t quite as lush for IT specialists, but demand is strong and pay is rising quickly.

But, rather than solely playing the overly expensive game of musical chairs, banks are often looking overseas to fill their empty seats. The number of requests for H-1B visas by U.S. banks is skyrocketing.

Requests submitted by Bank of America nearly doubled from 2010 to 2013 – from 851 to 1,378, according to Financial News. H-1B requests, typically for workers in countries like India and China, increased by 45% at J.P. Morgan during the same period. Goldman Sachs requested 1,136 H-1B visas last year, up 19% from 2010, according to the report.

Banks are looking for a range of talent from H-1Bs, but many are developers and people who work on the technology side of compliance. The problem, experts tell Financial News, is that banks aren’t being granted enough H-1Bs to cover their needs. So the pricey war for local talent should still continue.

One strategy being employed by banks, at least on the compliance end, is to poach workers from the public sector. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has seen almost a dozen of its 200 staffers poached by big banks over the last year. Other agencies that don’t have the budgets of big banks are feeling a similar pain.

Hiring Roundup (eFinancialCareers)

In the latest hiring roundup, a new U.S. bond fund needs a dozen staffers, FX hiring is back in vogue and a Canadian firm eyes London expansion.

Why CFA Pass Rates Are Rising (eFinancialCareers)

The CFA pass rate for both level II and the final level three exam that elevates candidates into the coveted charterholder position have risen this year to levels last seen in 2006. Why? It could be as simple as a higher participation rate from financiers in one country.

RIP (Bloomberg)

James Schiro, the former lead independent director at Goldman Sachs, died on August 13 after a battle with a form of cancer. He was 68.

New Name, Fresh Faces (WSJ)

Steven A. Cohen has lost his closest confidant. Tom Conheeney, a 15-year veteran of SAC Capital Management – now Point72 Asset Management – will leave the firm at the end of the year. He’ll be replaced as president by former McKinsey director Douglas Haynes, who has only been with the firm since February.

PwC Banned for Consulting Mishap (Dealbook)

PricewaterhouseCoopers was fined $25 million and banned for doing some financial services consulting work for two years after settling allegations that it changed an anti-money laundering report at the behest of its client, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

Put Down the Blackberry (Financial News)

Banks are tweaking holiday guidelines to force employees to put down their Blackberry. Some firms, like Deutsche Bank, don’t let bankers receive or respond to calls. At Barclays, meanwhile, you can check and even respond to email but not to influence transactions or to conduct business while on vacation.

Associates Getting Paid (DealBreaker)

Summer investment banking associate interns are getting bigger offers this year than in years past as competition for young MBAs increases. Starting salaries of $125k are being seen at J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citi.

Buzz Around the Office

Backpacks! (Gawker)

Calling a local commercial “the worst of all-time” is a bold statement. In this case, it’s more fact than opinion.

Quote of the Day: “If I’d known you were coming, I’d have had my hair done.” – (bald) Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein to a photographer

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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