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Prime brokers are in prime position

The number of hedge funds in Singapore has increased from eight to over 50 in just three years. And prime brokers are in hiring mode.

Recruiters say Barclays Capital, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Lehman

Brothers, Morgan Stanley and UBS all hired for their Singapore prime brokerage operations in 2006. Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch

and Goldman Sachs are expected to hire in 2007.

Nonetheless, Richard Herring, managing director of

specialist banking and financial recruitment firm WH

Recruitment, says there's no sign of prime brokers upping sticks and shifting from Hong Kong (where most are now located) to Singapore.

"Personally, I don't think banks will move here en

masse, because 80% of the core business and fees

remain in Hong Kong over the short-to-medium term,"

Herring explains. "It's where hedge funds are

predominantly based and equity trading is."

Instead, he says what we're seeing is growth in Singaporean sales and account management jobs as local prime brokers establish a skeleton front capability to prepare for the launch of alternative funds locally.

People with prime broker experience are in short supply in both Hong Kong and Singapore, with the result that operations in both countries are typically staffed by Brits and Australians.

However, locals with related experience are in demand.

"Smaller brokerages will hire people in their early to

mid-30s with drive, understanding of financial markets

and ability to sell," adds Herring.

As with most other roles, Singapore's prime brokers earn less than their Hong Kong colleagues. Herring suggests a vice president in charge of operations could earn up to an annual HK$1.2m (US$153.6k) in Hong Kong, compared to S$150k ($97.4k) in Singapore.

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