London Recruiters Are Optimistic About FX Job Prospects In 1993


Recruiters in London are seeing a busy first quarter in the job market for foreign exchange traders as the traditional start-of-year game of musical chairs gets under way. Headhunters say they are guardedly optimistic about 1993, but they don't necessarily see any wholesale expansion in the market in the wake of last year's strong second half.

"I'm optimistic at the moment," says Steve Cartwright of recruiter Gordon Brown. "I certainly expect things will be picking up again, although banks are not recruiting in the same sort of numbers as they were in the '80s."

Jan Perrin of Jonathon Wrem says she is seeing some small expansion by the larger U.S., European and Japanese banks, although some smaller banks are still contracting--most notably some Scandinavian banks.

Cartwright and others say that what banks are looking for is to "improve the caliber of their staff." As another experienced headhunter puts it: "Banks want something exceptional and are willing to pay to get it. We used to send on to the client one in three or four of the people we saw. Now, it is more like one in ten or 11."

Good traders with a recent track record of profitability are likely to be snapped up immediately, whereas any trader made redundant without a good profit sheet will probably have an almost impossible task finding a job, says this recruiter.

To Move or Not to Move?

Unfortunately, he doesn't see that the best people are that interested in moving--they are worried enough about the future to prefer to stay put. "People are frightened about moving on," he says. But his view contradicts that of two rival recruiters.

Perrin of Jonathon Wren says she is "seeing a lot more people prepared to move on now." And Norman Philpott of NPA Management Services argues that more traders are willing to move now than he has seen in the past two years. "It's a matter of confidence," says Philpott. "After three great months like the last ones, traders get cocky."

As in the past year or so, recruiters are seeing the most demand for traders in treasury sales, options and derivatives. "There's a lot of interest at the moment in specialist salespeople," says Gordon Brown's Cartwright. "We're seeing demand for people who can sell options, derivatives and sometimes things like spot EMS currencies."

Generalists in Demand

Veronica McPake of Exchange Appointments agrees that her firm "is seeing a big demand for corporate salespeople," although generalists are more what she thinks most banks want.

Wren's Perrin says banks want salespeople who can speak at least one European language and bring some client contacts with them. In this and other areas, even spot, say recruiters, the trend is to favor university graduates where other credentials are equal.

For Exchange Appointments, says McPake, the business has shifted largely toward the options and currency derivatives side as expansion in the spot market has slowed.

"Without a doubt, options and derivatives are the only real growth areas in this market," agrees another headhunter.

Perrin says she is seeing less in derivatives, but options continue to grow as "some additional players come into the market in a meaningful way or expand." But she is doubtful the options market can expand as quickly this year as it has in the past two.

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