Finance News

Banking jobs hit record high

The number of people employed in the US securities industry has overtaken its previous peak - achieved at the top of the dotcom boom - just as many fear that global capital markets are starting to fall.

US securities firms added 10,000 staff in June, pushing employment levels in the industry to 848,300, higher than the previous peak of 840,900 in March 2001. The monthly rise is the biggest since June 2000, when 12,600 staff were hired after the dotcom bubble burst. Figures published last week by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a US industry lobby group that represents the biggest participants in the sector, showed that American investment banks have hired 97,300 staff since October 2003, the end of the last downturn.

The recruitment drive has coincided with a period of record profits for investment banks but, with the crisis in US sub-prime mortgages causing banks to pull funds out of big leveraged buyouts, there are fears the market may have peaked. Some banks have slowed their recruitment for the rest of the year and there have been reports that several have frozen all but essential recruitment. A recent research report from Credit Suisse said banks had been slow to cut costs after revenues peaked in 2000 and warned that cost cuts had come 18 months too late.

Despite recent falls in confidence, headhunters say investment banks are continuing to hire at all levels, particularly in Europe, where revenues are growing faster than in the US. The UK consultancy the Centre for Economics and Business research said it expected 4,200 new jobs to be created in the City of London by the end of the year, bringing total employment in the UK's financial centre to a record 342,600.

Banks usually complete the bulk of their recruitment in the first half of the year when hiring costs are lower because their can avoid paying a year's bonus to prise bankers from rivals. The recent US reporting season revealed top investment banks have continued to increase staff numbers, led by Morgan Stanley, which has added more than 2,700 to its 46,000-strong global workforce since the end of last year.

Goldman Sachs has hired a further 1,545, bringing its total staff to 28,012 while Merrill Lynch, which shed more jobs than its rivals during the last downturn, has hired 5,700 for its retail and investment banking businesses. US banks increasingly rely on international businesses for growth and are relocating staff from New York to London, which is better placed to serve markets in Asia and the Middle East.

This trend will hit Wall Street's recruitment figures without reducing overall staff numbers. Citi, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have moved divisional heads and other staff to London this year.

CEBR economist Jonathan Said added: "London's recent ability to capture a larger share of the international finance market has contributed to the rapid jobs growth being experienced. Yet, while London has become more susceptible to global events, it is no longer only linked to events across the pond but, importantly, also to the likes of China and Russia."

Source: Financial News Online
Date: 30.07.2007 [ID: 62]

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