Investment banks have started trimming headcount again. Some, such as Standard Chartered and (probably) Deutsche Bank, are making wholesale changes. This is unfortunate, since it follows one of the most stable employment markets for investment bankers in years.
A new report from research firm Coalition looks at where the jobs went in the first half of this year. - And where they're likely to disappear between now and December.
1. Fixed income currencies and commodities (FICC) bankers fared worse in the first half
In the first half of 2015, just 800 front office investment bankers lost their jobs globally, according to Coalition. 600 of these were in the fixed income currencies and commodities divisions of investment banks, while 100 departed in both advisory and equities functions it suggests.
At the same point in 2014, 2,400 people had lost their jobs year on year. From the first half of 2012 to 2013, 4,500 people departed from the front office of investment banks. 5,400 left the year before. 2015, therefore, was looking rather good. - Until August.
2. Equities sales and trading teams were going great in the six months to June
Before last month's equities chaos, equities teams were doing pretty well. Coalition says they were the only teams that performed better year-on-year in the second quarter, with 20% year on year gains.
3. Coalition isn't expecting a wipe out in the second half of the year
Last week, analysts at J.P. Morgan issued a gloomy prognosis for the remainder of 2015. Coalition is less pessimistic. It thinks FICC and M&A will be flat, it suggests, while equities will be up by 12% on 2014.
4. But some FICC professionals could suffer for their under-performance in the first half
Nonetheless, with banks casting around for places to cut costs, some desks are likely to present themselves ahead of others. G10 credit was the worst place to work in during the first half, with revenues slipping by 30%, while the ongoing slump in commodities trading meant a 25% decline year-on-year. Within FICC, FX desks experienced a revival in fortunes, with revenues up by 74%.
5. If you work for a bank that's not pulling out of prime services, you're fine
Equity derivatives performed a lot better than cash equities, while revenues in prime services were up by 23% despite a number of investment banks looking to scale back in this capital intensive area.
6. M&A bankers are safe too
Within advisory, M&A is propping up other divisions with a 23% gain on the first half of 2014. Financials and healthcare are the places to be.