Is hiring coming back, or isn't it? In the past week alone, Mizuho Securities has announced plans to hire 150 people, Barclays Capital has unveiled the recruitment of 450 people for its European and Asian cash equities business and says it plans to hire 300 more, Evolution has hired 45 peole from Dresdner - and says it plans to hire more, and Standard Chartered and SocGen have announced plans to hire 100 private bankers and 35 M&A bankers respectively.
Are the bad, bad times therefore over, or are we trying to make a barbecue summer out of a swallow? Here are the opinions of a selection of financial services recruiters/headhunters on the issue -
Shaun Springer, chief executive, Napier Scott: WARM
"In the past few weeks there's been a noticeable improvement in hiring. It's not a huge improvement, but it's noticeable. Job orders are coming in as people realize that the outlook is not as dire as predicted in the first quarter."
Tim Sheffield, chief executive, Sheffield Haworth: WARM
"Hiring is picking up. Hiring freezes are beginning to thaw. Small businesses with an appetite to grow are hiring and bigger houses which have lost people to redundancy or attrition are looking at strategically growing their businesses."
Dee Symons, head of global banking and markets, Russell Reynolds: COLD-WARM
"There are certain big banks that are hiring now and have continued to do so throughout the past six months as they look to take advantage of problems elsewhere in the market. Other big firms that have been in reduction mode have now stopped cutting headcount and are beginning to talk selectively about being open to high level strategic hires.
"I don't think there are many firms in headcount increasing mode, but the return a modicum of stability means that most banks are now keen to take advantage of opportunities in the market. They have realized that they can't sit still forever.
"There was also very little post-bonus attrition in Q1 and people have now started moving again. This is creating a need for replacement hires."
Lee Thacker, partner, Silvermine Partners: COLD-WARM
"There is definitely more stability than there was. There are more discussions, but there is not that much actual hiring. A lot of banks have stabilized their plans after the first quarter, but hiring is by no means signed off yet."
Jason Kennedy, chief executive, Kennedy Associates: COLD
"Most banks are still running on a skeleton crew, but at this point no one is increasing headcount. Broker dealers are beefing up and small equity shops are moving into fixed income and credit, but the big banks aren't doing anything. They are interviewing, but this is more to see what competitors are doing than anything else.
People are saying there may be a flicker of recruitment in Q4, but we will probably be into next year before any real hiring starts again. Recent optimism is rumour driven and part of the bubble created by rising share prices. That has now started to deflate and we are coming back to reality again."