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CommentP&M Notebook

FIG frenzy

The scrap for the best bankers has reached a new part of the capital markets

Bank

As investment banking and capital markets activity comes off the boil after a hectic year, there is one area where firms are still competing against each other with ferocity to recruit and retain the best people: FIG debt capital markets.

This is evident from the recent hiring activity uncovered by GlobalCapital. Take the two vice-presidents who were recently lured away from Citi's FIG DCM team in London by Barclays and JP Morgan, for example.

And there has also been hiring activity at a more senior level, with Wells Fargo hiring Sook Leen Seah from Nomura, where she was head of capital advisory and liability management, and UK and Ireland FIG DCM specialist Daniel Goodman from NatWest Markets. Spokespeople for the banks declined to comment.

Some recent moves in FIG have been driven by chains of events that have long been in motion. For instance, Barclays was recently looking for a FIG syndicate banker in Paris to replace Yasser Chahboun, who is moving to the UK bank's Dubai office to replace Abdeslam Alaoui on the CEEMEA DCM desk (Alaoui left a while ago for a senior job at Deutsche Bank). Barclays ended up selecting George Kalbin for the Paris FIG syndicate job, hiring him from Crédit Agricole.

But the heightened activity in the FIG banker market is also thought to be a response from banks to expectations of robust issuance from the sector in the coming year and beyond as banks grow their balance sheets and profit from rising interest rates.

There are signs that this upswing is already underway. FIG bond issuance overtook non-financial corporates in the third quarter of 2021 and has been ramping up steadily since then, according to Dealogic.

"Those guys are buried at the moment," said a recruiter who claimed to be working with clients on more than 10 searches in FIG DCM last week. "You can't get hold of candidates. They're buried in work seven days a week."

The headhunter said that heads of DCM were focusing their recruitment efforts not just on bankers with expertise in senior debt and regulatory capital, but also securitization.

"There’s a bigger focus from DCM heads on the FIG revenue stream," he said. "They're switching back into ABS and FIG."

It's a far cry from equity capital markets, where fears of lay-offs have been growing as deal flow has fallen away precipitously in the first quarter of the year. Up and coming bankers who cut their teeth on initial public offerings and accelerated book builds wave may be asking themselves whether it's too late to switch track to additional tier one capital and mortgage-backed bonds.

Keep scrolling for all of the week's people and markets headlines from GlobalCapital.

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