Recruiters say financial sponsor groups are hiring, but only for senior positions.
"Financial sponsor teams are looking for staff," says Philip Bailey, a consultant at search firm Walker Hamill. "But they are only after people with good contacts, who really know the space."
Another recruiter confirms that most of the jobs for financial sponsor specialists are for senior staff, who can earn anything from 1.5m to 4m: "The structure of financial sponsor teams is quite top heavy because there is a strong emphasis on relationships and product teams in capital markets, leveraged finance or M&A are used to put the deals together."
Isabel Martin, head of European financial services recruitment at search firm Korn/Ferry International, says recruitment in the financial sponsors area is busy with banks such as Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and UBS all looking to hire.
Lehman Brothers is also understood to be hiring financial sponsor specialists at the executive director level, and that Credit Suisse is considered short on junior financial sponsor talent.
Post-bonuses there have been several senior moves in the financial sponsors arena. Deutsche Bank, for example, has lost six managing directors from its leveraged finance and financial sponsor group in the past month. Credit Suisse recently hired Paul Kelly, one of three managing directors in the financial sponsors team at Morgan Stanley.
Following booming private equity activity, Morgan Stanley last year beefed up its European financial sponsor coverage team, which generates a quarter of its investment banking revenues, doubling its size to 18.
Recruiters say Credit Suisse is one of the best houses in the market for financial sponsor talent. "Financial sponsor teams tend to be more or less empowered depending on the strength of the M&A coverage bankers," says one. "At Credit Suisse the financial sponsor team is very powerful and successful."
Research by information firm Dealogic quoted in Euromoney Magazine found that at 24%, Credit Suisse derived a higher proportion of M&A revenues from its financial sponsor business than any other bank in 2005.