The 10 banking hires that will transform 2019

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While overall headcount in banking for 2018 has likely remained neutral, if not down a bit, banks have been extremely aggressive this year when it comes to the recruiting of MD-level talent. In a departure from the norm, many firms are actually still hiring senior bankers this late in the year, accepting the fact that they’ll likely need to match bonuses that would have been paid out by previous employers. The tighter job market has certainly made for an interesting year.

Looking back on 2018, we put together a list of ten key hires that have the potential to be game-changers, both for new and old employers. Some names are bigger than others, but the fallout from each hire should be significant. Most will have a direct impact on hiring plans in 2019.

Apoorv Saxena, global head of AI technology at J.P. Morgan; Manuela Veloso, head of AI research

In the midst of an arms race for artificial intelligence experts, J.P. Morgan successfully lured away one of Google’s best AI minds. Hired in late August, Saxena is actively building up an AI team in the Bay area. He took no time putting his stamp on the new role, poaching an AI engineer from Facebook in his second week on the job. The bank also hired Manuela Veloso, head of the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon, to lead its AI research initiatives. J.P. Morgan has been pouring money into artificial intelligence and machine learning as it begins development on its new fintech campus in Palo Alto, California, conveniently sandwiched right in between the campuses of Google and Facebook.

Beyond his engineering skills, Saxena should give J.P. Morgan a better chance to compete over tech talent given his background at Google, where he was the head of product management for cloud-based AI. Perhaps more important, he’s the co-founder of the AI Frontiers Conference, which brings together the most influential voices in artificial intelligence. Past sponsors include Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. This year, J.P. Morgan was the diamond sponsor. Combine his network with that of Veloso and you’re looking at a recruiting duo to be reckoned with.

Greg Guyett, co-head of global banking at HSBC

Some may call it an emergency hire. The move came on the heels of a now-infamous September memo in which anonymous current and former senior bankers eviscerated global banking head Robin Phillips, noting that he “utterly failed to create a successful strategy which would have even a chance of succeeding.” The memo, sent to HSBC’s CEO and chairman and leaked to the media, called for the ousting of Phillips, who still remains with the bank. But he’ll no longer be the only one running the show at HSBC’s investment bank. Guyett, a 30-year veteran of J.P. Morgan, was hired in October, pending regulatory approval. There has been a lot of turnover at HSBC’s investment bank in recent months, particularly in M&A. Expect more to come with a new co-head in place.

Chris Gallea, vice chairman of investment banking at Goldman Sachs

One of the main takeaways from 2018 at Goldman Sachs is that the bank appears more willing to bring in outsiders at its highest rank. One of those was Chris Gallea, the former top industrials banker at J.P. Morgan who joined Goldman Sachs as a partner in May in New York. Gallea was immediately elevated to vice chairman of Goldman’s investment bank, a key role within the firm as new Chief Executive David Solomon takes the reins from former CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who was known more for his affinity for sales and trading. Gallea brings with him a loaded rolodex of clients, including United Technologies and Emerson Electric, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sam Wisnia, Eisler Capital

The former head of rates and foreign exchange at Deutsche Bank, Wisnia joined the $2.6 billion macro fund in March. Wisnia was a key hire at the time for Deutsche Bank, who promoted him only last year in the hopes he would build up a team of strats as he did at Goldman Sachs earlier in his career.

For Deutsche Bank, the significance of Wisnia’s departure goes beyond his reputation as a brilliant quant. Just a few months after leaving the German lender, Wisnia poached a seven-person team to join him at London’s Eisler Capital. Included in the haul was Angelo Haritsis, the ex-Goldman Sachs MD who had been leading Deutsche's fixed income strats function, along with at least six other director and vice-president-level quant specialists. Wisnia was brought to Deutsche Bank to build a team. After a few short years, he seemingly left with much of it.

Charles Elkan, global head of machine learning at Goldman Sachs

J.P. Morgan isn’t the only one robbing artificial intelligence talent from Silicon Valley. In March, Goldman Sachs hired Elkan away from Amazon, where he was leading the Web giant’s central machine learning team. Like Veloso at JPM, Elkan has spent the vast majority of his career as an academic. He became one of the bigger names in machine learning and AI at the University of California, San Diego while doing consulting work for companies like Netflix. Now he’s leading Goldman’s AI strategy.

Navtej Bhullar, global co-head of healthcare M&A at Deutsche Bank

Bhullar’s November hire is particularly noteworthy considering Deutsche Bank has been taking a knife to its investment banking division during the second half of the year. Bhullar spent the last two years at Lazard in New York after working for more than a decade at Goldman Sachs, eventually making MD and helping to lead its healthcare coverage in the U.S. and Canada.

Bhullar may not be the biggest name to switch firms this year, but his hire underscores comments that we’ve heard from recruiters in recent weeks. Despite all the news clippings surrounding layoffs, Deutsche Bank has been selectively recruiting senior bankers and traders in the U.S. as of late. Overall headcount is shrinking, but the German bank is remaining active as it searches for fresh blood.

Gregory Berube, senior managing director at Evercore

Berube came over from Goldman Sachs in May to help lead Evercore’s restructuring and debt advisory group in New York. He was named head of restructuring in the Americas at Goldman just last year when former global head Roopesh Shah left for, you guessed it, Evercore. Both hires show just how dominant boutique investment banks like Evercore, Lazard and PJT Partners have become over the last few years in debt restructuring. Boutiques now get the lion’s share of work as clients look to avoid potential conflicts of interests that can come with big banks. This has resulted in a constant game of musical chairs with senior restructuring bankers, which the boutiques keep winning.

Mark Manduca, managing director, equity research at Citi

Citi’s hiring of Manduca was interesting for two reasons. First, the former Bank of America MD was the highest-voted analyst of any sector in the latest European Institutional Investor Survey, leading research of transport, leisure, autos and business services, among others, according to Financial News. Second, many banks in Europe have cut back on equity research staff following the implementation of Mifid II. Perhaps seeking a market opportunity, Citi has gone the other way, adding a host of senior research analysts in London in recent months. Citi seems to have gotten one of the best with the poaching of Manduca.

Neil Chriss, Millennium Capital Management

Goldman Sachs veteran and founder of recently-defunct hedge fund Hutchin Hill Capital, Chriss didn’t stay on the sidelines for too long. The famed mathematician partnered with Millennium in September to build out a new quant trading business that has since been dubbed Omnis Quantitative. Chriss has made at least one confirmed hire so far but is said to be having talks with other quant researchers and technologists. The hedge fund giant has also been doing plenty of hiring on its own outside of its relationship with Chriss.

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