For Recruiters

MDs multiplying faster than ever

If you don't make MD this year, this may not come as particularly good news... But, after investment banks in Hong Kong had a terrific year in 2006, recruiters say banks are promoting more people in the country than ever.

"There has been a raft of promotions this year," says one recruiter. "After all, with salaries going up so much, you might as well as give the guy a title to go with his new cash," he says.

It's an interesting variation on the argument employed when times were less good. Then, it was all about giving people fancy titles to make up for lower salaries. These days the thinking is that it would be silly to lose a member of staff to a rival banker because they offer him a better title, particularly if you've already cashed him up.

Still, that promotion will be good for subsequent bonuses.

According to Kevin Yeung, a recruiter at the Whitney Group in Hong Kong, while analysts and associates are paid a steady rate through good times and bad, differentiation can really bite at vice president and director level.

"At this level the bonus becomes sharply variable and you have to watch out you are not getting a lot less than your peers - if you do, you can be sure your company doesn't regard you as a star employee."

Unfortunately, bonuses are a zero sum game. The money has to come from somewhere, and it's not going to come from senior staff like MDs. So if a star director is thinking of leaving, it's the other directors and VPs who will have to cough up the cash to induce him (and occasionally her) to stay.

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