The bad news for Asia’s equities professionals has continued unabated. Lay-offs hit RBS, Macquarie and CLSA earlier this year.
More recently, Daiwa laid off three senior ECM bankers in Asia Pacific; while Nomura announced deep global cuts to its equities team. Earlier this week it was Deutsche Bank’s turn.
Germany’s largest lender let go of 85 equities people in the region. The firm made redundant 40 staff in Hong Kong and another 45 in Tokyo, reports Bloomberg. The restructuring affected those in equity research, sales and trading.
A Hong Kong-based recruiter, who declined to be named, says job losses were across the board, with both junior and senior bankers axed. “Of course morale is low. All firms, not just Deutsche Bank are rationalising their commitment to equities because they’ve struggled to make the required rate of return. At the same time, they’re refocusing on areas where they have competitive market share.”
The future of Asia’s equities professionals appears bleak at the moment. Trading volumes have dropped off and so have the number of IPOs. The Financial Times quoted a source as saying: “By the end of the year, I reckon every equities team will be down by at least 20 per cent compared to the start of the year.”
Given the grim outlook, what’s next? Rafael Brana, associate, Bo Le Associates, says: “There are certainly more investment bankers in Hong Kong who are now open to careers outside of finance, but there’s no clear preferred career track.”
Brana says more and more i-bankers are eager to be their own boss and venture into the start-up world. Technology particularly internet-oriented businesses are a main draw, while others have transformed themselves into venture capitalists.
Chinese investment banks have been in a stronger position to opportunistically hire some of those who have been retrenched due to large firms rescaling their businesses. However, the usual mandatory requirement of being able to speak Mandarin still applies, he adds.