HSBC has been indulging in some opportunistic recruiting of senior people for its markets division, right about the time when people should be sitting tight and contemplating their bonuses.
HSBC has hired Colin Robb, formerly head of US and UK sales trading at Natixis and an ex-J.P. Morgan managing director, as a director in its EMEA sales trading team. Ashley Bazely, a senior trader who was latterly working at J.P. Morgan, also signed up to HSBC in November as did Dennis Abele, an ex-credit trader at Goldman Sachs.
It's possible, of course, that HSBC is taking the opportunity to hire people who have been out of the market - Robb left Natixis in August, according to the Financial Conduct Authority register. In most cases, traders have a three month notice period, but Bazely and Abele left J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs in October. HSBC didn't respond to a request for comment on the previous employment status of its new hires.
Other smaller investment banks have been hiring people who have been on the receiving end of cuts - Royal Bank of Scotland took on Andrew Jarman, the head of high yield beta trading at Mizhuo, who was let go in August.
This is not the time of year to be embarking on a new job if you’re in the front office of an investment bank. Bonuses are paid in January, buyouts are unlikely and so you risk forfeiting everything if you leave before the end of the year.
But bonuses in banks’ markets divisions are likely to be diminutive this year, and traders and research analysts have continued to switch jobs.
HSBC has also been hiring senior people in research. Michael Ridley, a director in green bonds and research, joined recently having previously worked for Mizhuo, and Mark Howson joined from Canaccord Genuity as an investment analyst focusing on support and construction services.
In some ways, HSBC hiring at this point in the year appears unusual. However, it's also opportunistic - not only are other investment banks cutting back, its global markets division was up by 9% year on year for the first nine months of 2015 and it kept its cost income ratio below 60%. It clearly has some money to spend on new employees