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US investment houses are the biggest recruiters of top graduates and also tend to have the deepest pockets, according to the recruitment consultant Michael Page. Most of these organisations have had a sign-on policy for some time but have kept very quiet about it.

This year, however, the recruitment gloves came off and sign-ons became an important weapon in what Alexander Campbell, managing director of human resources at global investment bank UBS Warburg, described as an incredible war for talent.