Asset management recruitment still showing no signs of life

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While Bank of America, Goldman and JPMorgan whooped about record investment banking levels last week, their asset management didn't show any comparable pick up. And there might signs of improvement in the financial sector jobs market, but the sentiment around asset management is decidedly less rosy.

Goldman's asset management revenues were down 21% to $922m (a slump compared to other firms, although David Viniar said revenues in the first quarter were artificially high due to one off fees). JPMorgan's revenues were down a relatively favourable 4% on last year and net income at Bank of America's Global Wealth Management and Investment Management arm was down 24%.

This isn't the only reason to believe asset management recruitment will lag the banking upswing. CBI/PWC's quarterly survey shows fund managers still negative about the prospect of headcount increases.

Similarly, research by investment management think-tank CREATE suggests there's going to be very little asset management recruitment until 2010. Even though markets are picking up, it says, there's "still a lot of fat to trim".

Amin Rajan, chief executive of the firm, says: "There are exceptions to this. We're predicting growth in distressed debt, as clients look for opportunistic investments, as well as the relative safe haven of global equities and the credit markets. At the moment, though, firms are picking up one or two people here and there, but it's nothing compared to the past two years."

Some notable recent appointments include Ian Berry as fund manager at Aviva Investors, Liontrust's mini recruitment drive in a bid to stop more investor outflows and Henderson Global Investors' bolstering of its structured products team.

But Patrick Morrissey, group managing director of executive search firm Sheffield Haworth, believes the majority of asset management recruitment is still opportunistic.

"Some firms are having to hire because they've lost key people, but other firms are quite strong, have money in the bank and are willing to make the strategic decision to hire during the downturn," he says.

And Martin Lorigan, director of the asset management practice at Principal Search, says firms are "using the current market conditions to upgrade or add products and talent at a significantly lower cost."

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