Who are these '700 top investment bankers' who've fled RBS?

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If you read the Sunday Times yesterday, you could be forgiven for thinking RBS is a shell of its former self, populated only by second rate people incapable of getting jobs anywhere else.

The paper claimed that RBS has lost more than 700 of its top people, particularly in commodities, fixed income and credit derivatives.

However, according to most London recruiters and to RBS insiders, it's really not that bad. They estimate that RBS has 8,500 to 9,000 front office bankers globally, and that although 700 have left, they weren't the best of the best. The bank has also made some hires, notably in foreign exchange, and equities.

RBS declined to comment. But one insider said global banking and markets headcount is down, but only marginally.

Recruiters said key trading teams in London such as FX are largely intact. "Unless I'm missing something I really haven't seen many people go," says one FX recruiter. And RBS commodities exits have mostly been in the US, where the likes of David Messer quit in March.

According to the Wall Street Journal, RBS has given a big guarantee to Messer's replacement, and raised commissions. Antonio Polverino is also thought to have been given a pleasantly large package when he joined from BofA/Merrill in May.

This may go some way to explaining the fact that although RBS is leaking, it doesn't appear to be disintegrating - yet.

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