Prime broking roles set to take off

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Recruiters say investment banks' prime broking arms are gearing up for a recruiting spree, with a particular focus on prime brokerage technologists.

"Prime brokerage hiring is on the agenda," says Mike Sherwin, head of the banking IT team at recruitment firm Huxley Associates. "Banks are looking to grow their prime brokerage businesses and need technologists to support that. It's been identified as a growth area."

Yesterday, Lehman Brothers identified prime brokerage as a global growth priority for the bank.

A recruiter who operates across prime broking roles, says technologists are not the only ones in demand: "Most banks are hiring for roles across prime broking, including sales and marketing, capital introductions, stock lending, and product development."

Gwyn Rowlands, a consultant at IT recruiters Wreay Partnership, says prime brokerage technology hiring has stepped up in line with increased hedge fund activity. "Prime brokers are looking for programmers, business analysts, and project managers," he says. "They don't have to have previous prime broking experience, but it helps."

Darren Ball, senior consultant at recruiter JM, confirms the trend: "There's a nice niche developing in the prime broker space for IT people," Ball says. "I've noticed tier-one banks winning more business from fund managers and hedge funds, and we're now seeing two or three times the number of IT roles needed to service those clients."

Rowlands says pay for technologists in prime broking doesn't equal pay for the hottest IT staff working on credit derivative trading systems, for example. It's not bad nonetheless: after five years, he says a vice president level project manager could count on a salary of 75,000 to 95,000, plus a 30% to 70% bonus.

Suggestions that the ranks of prime brokerage technologists are set to swell coincides with claims that Citigroup has seen its prime broking business triple over the last 12 months. Earlier this week the US bank announced that it had recruited a head of European stock lending and a head of European capital introductions to its prime broking division.