Morning Coffee: Macquarie axes 100 as banks live to regret “aggressive” hiring in Asia

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Macquarie has joined the growing ranks of firms that are now slashing their headcounts in Asian investment banking – providing more evidence to suggest that the 2011/2012 hiring boom in regional IBD was premature and misguided. The Australian bank is culling about 100 investment bankers, about half of its team, across Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, India and Japan

"About two to three years ago it hired too aggressively – took on too many people in anticipation of investment-banking revenues that didn’t eventuate as expected. Quite a few banks 'over hired' in Asia as the market first recovered after the financial crisis,” says a Hong Kong-based headhunter.

Several banks have cut jobs in Asia so far this year as regional investment banking revenues totalled US$2bn in the first quarter – down from US$2.57bn in the same period last year. Standard Chartered closed its equities division, with about 100 of the 200 affected jobs based in Hong Kong, and CIMB cut about 50 equities-related roles in Asia. RBS is reducing its Asia operations to a sales and trading unit in Singapore, Nomura has cut about 12 Asia equities jobs, and 15 bankers have left Goldman Sachs in Singapore.

International banks continue to refocus their Asian hiring towards other, more profitable areas. Credit Suisse and UBS are now mainly recruiting people into their private banks in Singapore and Hong Kong, for example. Several firms are recruiting in revenue-steady transaction banking and Macquarie itself wants to grow its principal investments business.


Jefferies loses three investment bankers in Asia. (Finance Asia)

Neil Kell, Deutsche Bank's Asia ECM head, is joining Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Nasdaq)

ANZ’s Asian expansion is far from over. (Australian Financial Review)

GF Securities sale makes Hong Kong the world’s top location for IPOs this year. (Wall Street Journal)

Bank lending in Singapore continued to fall in February. (Channel News Asia)

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