Mid-market banks lead equities charge

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Recovering markets may be reinvigorating big banks' appetite for equity hires, but recruiters say the real recruitment activity in the sector is in firms focused on the mid-market.

"The UK small and mid-cap area has been very active," says Mark Horlock, a director at search firm Alexander Mann Financial Markets. "A lot of houses operating there are looking to grow their sales and analysis teams."

Small and mid-cap specialists such as Collins Stewart, Numis Securities, Teather & Greenwood, and Evolution, are all understood to be recruiting on the back of burgeoning activity in the area.

According to information provider Dealogic, the value of UK targeted M&A deals worth less than $500m rose 30% between 2004 and 2005, to $89.6bn. Over the same period, the value of initial public offerings for companies worth less than $500m in market value, rose 50% to $8.6bn.

Horlock says the AIM market in particular has played an important role in driving recruitment. At the end of last year 1,179 companies were listed on the market, of which 220 were located outside the UK.

The increased costs imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley on listing in the US are expected to increase international interest in AIM in future. Among those listing last year was Polyfuel, a California-based developer of a methanol fuel cell, while Bodisen Biotech, a Chinese organic fertiliser firm, listed this February with the assistance of Charles Stanley.

Horlock says pay for salespeople in small and mid-cap focused firms can be comparatively generous. "A lot of these houses offer commission payout deals. If you earn 100 in commission, you'll get to keep between 10% and 25% of it. At one place, the lowest paid salesman earned 300,000 last year."

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