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Morning Coffee: Top banker hires 400 people in London and then leaves. The richest bankers in the poorhouse

To make a job move from London to Singapore is to some extent swimming against the tide at present; although the UK deals market has been pretty bad for a while, there are signs of it recovering and things never got quite so bad as they did in the APAC region. But nonetheless, that’s what Rig Kharkanis and Aleem Jivraj of Nomura are doing. Having been promoted to head of global markets and divisional COO in March last year and relocated to London shortly after to supervise Nomura’s EMEA expansion plan, they are now declaring “my work here is done” and heading back home.

And quite a lot of work it’s been; although we’ve written occasionally over the last year about how aggressively Nomura has been adding headcount, it’s only when you pause and look back that you get an idea of scale. Kharkanis and Jivraj have apparently made more than 400 net additions to their division in the last year, beating a company record.  They’ve got so many bankers in Europe these days that they sometimes lose one or two.

Not all of those 400 will have been in London, and not all of them will have been high-level executives. But plenty of them were, like Andrew Kellner from Lloyds (and previously Barclays), Hemish Shah and Ruchir Sharma from Deutsche and Mouloud Ameni and Amin Kirdar from Jefferies. All these appointments were for heads of significant trading franchises.

Which is presumably why Kharkanis had to spend some time away from his home. Senior MD level hires involve persuading someone with a significant personal franchise to take a big career risk. When the move involves going from an established domestic name to a subsidiary of a foreign bank, the risk is even bigger. People are only going to make that move if they are convinced that their new employer is committed to the market and won’t just cut everything in a few years. 

And the only way to convince them is slowly, over time and with lots of personal contact with the most senior decision makers. That’s why these hires take such a long time, and clearly you can’t have that sort of high-touch relationship from seven or eight time zones away; you can’t really do it over Zoom either.

But now, it seems like the big names and divisional heads that Nomura needs are on board, and that any further hiring is going to be happening at the level of people who can’t realistically ask to see the global head of markets at the drop of a hat. So Kharkanis’ move back to Asia suggests that the EMEA franchise has reached a level of maturity in terms of its personnel and management; now let’s see if it delivers the performance and how committed to its growth the head office really is.

Elsewhere, the latest economic acronym is “HIFIs”, standing for people who are “high income” but “financially insecure”.  You can probably see one or two from your desk right now – investment bankers are absolutely notorious for having a lifestyle that takes up all the money they earn and a little bit more.

In days gone by, some banks would practically encourage this sort of behaviour. The idea was that if bankers were constantly living a little bit beyond their means, it would “keep them hungry” and, importantly, keep them working. Their duller and more sensible colleagues were regarded with suspicion, as someone who spent consistently with their basic salary and used the bonus to pay off their mortgage might be more likely to retire early than to keep on doing deals.

Of course, the biggest and most unaffordable expenses these day for most people aren’t the kinds of luxuries that the people who coin acronyms like “HIFIs” want you to cut out; they’re things like “houses” and “school fees”. Which is probably good news for unscrupulous banking employers; they can enjoy all the benefits of a hungry and motivated staff without any of the occasional compliance risks associated with too much hedonism.


How do you persuade a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs to move jobs and be a Vice-President at another firm?  If it’s Michael Ryan-Southern and you’re Warner Music Group looking for someone to head up your search for acquisitions, the answer is presumably to remind him that “Executive Vice-President” doesn’t mean the same thing outside the banking industry. (Billboard)

Julia Hogget, the CEO of the London Stock Exchange, is campaigning for permission to put a big video screen outside its headquarters building in order to show little video success stories of companies quoted on the exchange. Although London IPOs are seemingly beginning to recover a bit, doesn’t this sound a little bit desperate? (FT)

Panmure Liberum has made 20 people redundant, seemingly as a result of duplication in the merger between Liberum and Panmure Gordon rather than anything else. And CEO Rich Ricci has another opportunity to reflect that if you ever get a picture taken of you at a racecourse in a ridiculous suit, that is the picture which will be printed whenever your firm has bad news. (Financial News)

For the first time in quite a while, finance students are apparently more confident that their degree will lead to a good job than those taking STEM subjects. Surprisingly, law students seem to be even less confident than those with degrees in arts and culture – perhaps lawyers are just not very confident people. (Institutional Investor)

Giuseppe Paleologo, a former senior risk quant at Citadel and Millennium and current head of risk management at Hudson River Trading, reminisces about the summer he spent as an intern at Enron, where the traders were always cursing and having “spit fights” but the senior managers who ended up in jail were actually quite nice. (Dropbox)

Software banker Kempton Dunn has made a few quick moves recently – he went from Centerview to Perella Weinberg last year, and is now going to be an MD at Bank of America. (Bloomberg)

AUTHORDaniel Davies Insider Comment

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