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This tiny boutique is involved in some big deals. But it's been a tough year.

Zaoui brothers cut pay for staff after leaner year

Working for a tiny boutique in London can be a lucrative business. As we pointed out last week, Qatalyst Partners - the tech-focused bank that employs seven people in London and made £27.6m in revenues last year - paid its employees an average of £1m each on the back of a surge in fees.

Zaoui & Co, the European advisory "kiosk" launched by brothers Michael and Yoel - known as the Ronaldo and Messi of investment banking - after their departure from senior roles at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, has not had such a great year. It posted a loss of £1.2m in 2016, according to accounts released today on Companies House, after making a profit of £8.6m on revenues of £17.3m in 2015.

It has cut pay for its 13 employees in the UK. Zaoui & Co spent £4.2m on staff last year, down from £5.3m in 2015, or an average payment of £323k - down from £411k in 2015. As well as paying £600k to its directors, the bank also awarded both Michael and Yoel Zaoui a dividend of £874k each last year.

Profits for Zaoui & Co are likely to be greater than the loss shows, however, as the UK accounts are only part of the picture - despite being based in London, it's incorporated in Luxembourg, and books most of its mega-deals in the Grand Duchy. These figures are not available, however.

Boutiques have been capturing an increasingly large slice of the pie from their larger investment banking rivals over the past couple of years, and there's an increasing trend for senior bankers to leave big banks to set up their own advisory businesses. It can be lucrative for those who jump ship to join them - Robey Warshaw, the boutique set up in 2013 by senior bankers Sir Simon Robey, Philip Apostolides, and Simon Warshaw - still employs fewer than 20 people, but paid an average of £520k last year.

Zaoui & Co remains a small organisation and does not make many hires. However, it has lost employees this year. Jonathan Arzel, an associate who joined from Morgan Stanley in 2014, left in March, while Matteo Concas, a former J.P. Morgan analyst who spent three years at Zaoui & Co, left in April to become country manager for Berlin-based mobile bank N26.

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Image: Getty Images

AUTHORPaul Clarke

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