Why banks are about to start hiring associates instead of VPs

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If you talk to investment banking recruiters in London and on Wall Street, they'll tell you the same thing: vice president (VP)-level hiring has made a comeback this year. After neglecting to train-up enough people in 2007-2008, banks have been fighting over that cohort that's now coming of age in the VP ranks. That's good news if you want a VP-level job. The bad news is that you'd better find that VP-level job soon.

"The notice period for people at vice president level and above is 90 days and at managing director [MD] level it can be as high as six months," says Michael Karp, New York-based managing partner at Options Group, the international executive search firm. At associate level, by comparison, Karp says the notice period is more like one month. Therefore, the closer we come to the end of the year, the more that Karp says banks start eyeing up experienced associates over VPs.

Kumaran Surenthirathas, head of front office recruitment at London-based Eximius, reports a similar trend in London: "Associates only have a one month notice period, whereas VPs have three. When you get beyond August and you're looking at waiting until December for a VP to come on board, it starts to make associates who can start in September look more desirable."

Banks are certainly advertising for associates to join their IBD divisions. J.P. Morgan, for example, has 80 associate roles open at the moment, compared to just 27 for VPs. This might be the nature of the banking hierarchy, or it might be the season - and if it's the latter, it's probably about to get worse.

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