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Alternative investors' ever-expanding appetite for bankers

Hedge funds and private equity funds are keener than ever to poach junior to mid-ranking investment bankers.

They tend to have fairly specific requirements. "Hedge funds are currently looking for clever junior bankers with a leveraged finance background, but in addition, they have to have excellent statistical modelling skills and preferably Mandarin," says Phil Pemberton of Sheffield Haworth in Hong Kong.

The demand is driven by the red-hot leveraged finance market in the region.

"Especially in Asia, you are looking at private equity and hedge funds searching for relatively junior sell-side bankers who have worked on deals from the other side of the fence to move over to the buy side," he says.

Candidates tend to be senior associates or vice presidents, according to Pemberton. Junior M&A bankers are also popular.

Packages are spoken of only in hushed tones. However, we're told by one source that a vice president working in leveraged finance for a bank who quits for a hedge fund can expect anything from US$400k to US$800k. The same person at associate level can command US$200k to US$400k.

Recruiters emphasise that investment bankers going over to alternative investments need to brace themselves for a more volatile and performance-driven environment.

"Risk levels are significantly higher and in some cases more long term, so individuals have to be comfortable with that," says one recruiter.

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