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The bankers getting guaranteed bonuses amidst the hiring freeze

If you're looking for a new financial services job now, then good luck. As we noted earlier, the financial technology recruitment market that's been busy for a while is no longer so. And as revenues languish across markets and investment banking divisions, hiring is slow elsewhere too. The talk is instead of coming rounds of new job cuts at top US banks. "There are too many banks and too many bankers," laments one London managing director. "That is the problem." 

And yet, people are still getting recruited amidst the torpor. We've reported many of the recent moves, here, but they include the Goldman Sachs macro MDs joining hedge funds, the new US-based head of global markets at MUFG, or more junior (and as yet unreported moves) like that of Joshua Thomas, an emerging markets credit trading VP who's just gone from Morgan Stanley to Barclays in London. This is on top of the banker moves out of Credit Suisse to various places, and out of Barclays to UBS. 

It's not the case for everyone (Michael Yarian at UFG, for example, was out of the market after leaving HSBC) but headhunters say many of those who are moving now are doing so on guaranteed bonuses. After all, it's nearly halfway through the year and even if 2023 bonuses are down again by double digits in percentage terms, they still need to be bought out.

Some of the most generous recent guarantees are coming from European banks. Santander, for example, is thought to have paid very generous two year guarantees when it hired eight senior bankers, including head of M&A Steve Geller from Credit Suisse. UBS is also thought to have paid generous guarantees to get its team of seven Barclays bankers on board.

Sales and trading professionals are being moved on guaranteed packages too. Headhunters working in FX and in the inflation trading and swaps space, say they're as busy as last year and that competition for talent remains intense. "Inflation has arguably passed its peak, but banks still need people to hedge against it," says one macro headhunter, pointing equally to the ongoing competition for talent between multistrategy funds. 

How do you get a guarantee now? You need big PnL generation potential, says one New York equities headhunter. "Every single senior person hired now needs big money against their name," he says. "All hires need to be signed-off three or four times and it's impossible to get people over the line unless they're an absolute star."

Photo by Tobias Rademacher on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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