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Rediff.com  » Business » Bonus season over, job churn begins at i-banks

Bonus season over, job churn begins at i-banks

March 12, 2010 09:03 IST

DollarsStuart Gulliver, head of HSBC's global investment banking business, is planning to give away the 9 million pounds bonus he received this year to charity.

Many investment bankers in India, however, are charting moves of a different kind after receiving their bonusesĀ -- up to 100 per cent in most cases.

Most of them are moving to the exit door.

The churn in investment banks, though less muted than in the heydays of 2007, is gathering speed. "The pent-up desire to move is very high at the moment," says R Suresh, managing director at head hunting firm Stanton Chase.

Every year, after bonuses are given in January and February, employees at investment banks 'plan their career', Suresh says.

The desire to move is higher this year for another reason, he adds.

"In many ways the era of big brands are now being questioned; people want to work with institutions that are better at managing risk."

The most high-profile job switch is that of Kaku Nakhate, head of equities at J P Morgan, to Bank of America Merril Lynch.

Nakhate is joining BOA ML as chief executive officer, replacing Kevan Watts who is retiring. She is bringing in a team of bankers from J P Morgan, said people familiar with the development.

There have been many others -- all in the last one-and-a-half month. Gaurav Gupta has joined as head of investment banking at Macquarie, moving from Nomura.

Nipun Goel joined Nomura as managing director, moving from BOA ML. Sumit Khanna and K Mahesh have joined Morgan Stanley as executive directors, moving from HSBC and Edelweiss, respectively.

Samita Shah joined the investment banking arm of Axis Bank from Credit Suisse some time ago, and Nitin Jain has moved out of ICICI Securities to join Nomura as co-head fixed income.

Head hunters claim more moves are expected to materialise in about a month. "Various developments are taking place and if people want to ride the growth wave then this is the time to do so," said Suresh.

The other reason for the churn is the composition of bonuses.

"There was not much of a cash component in bonuses announced at global investment banks, so employees are looking for better opportunities," says Sourabh Chattopadhyay, executive director at Options Group, an international executive search firm dedicated to the financial sector.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan confirmed that investment banker bonuses would be made up of a higher percentage of stock this time.

The bank was expected to cut the cash component of bonuses between 5 and 25 per cent, depending on the amount of the payout.

"The revival in hiring is also evident from the fact that a lot of people who had moved out of jobs are getting newer opportunities now," says Saket Jain, managing partner at Vito India, a specialised executive search firm for the investment banking and financial services industry.

The demand is mostly for those employees who bring in the clients for equity issues. This function in investment banking parlance is known as 'capital market origination'.

According to stock exchange data, about 90 Indian companies have announced plans to raise about Rs 70,000 crore through this route alone.

The January-March quarter is expected to see fund raising of around Rs 30,000 crore, including government disinvestment of about Rs 23,000 crore in firms such as NTPC, REC and NMDC.

According to estimates given by investment banks, the next financial year is expected to see fund raising of about Rs 1,30,000 crore (Rs 1,300 billion), including qualified institutional placements, initial public offers, depository receipts etc.

The government alone plans to raise another Rs 40,000 crore (Rs 400 billion) next year through disinvestments.

Abhineet Kumar in Mumbai
Source: