Irish bankers look to UK as jobs dry up back home

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If you that though the City jobs market was tough, spare a thought for those in Dublin. So scarce are front office opportunities, that increasing numbers are making their way to the UK in an attempt to secure a new position.

The Irish financial sector's two largest employers in terms of wholesale banking - Bank of Ireland and AIB - have rolled out recruitment freezes scheduled to last until the end of 2010. Anglo Irish Bank, meanwhile, is about to unveil a cost-cutting programme expected to result in hundreds of job losses.

"In terms of capital markets and corporate banking jobs in Ireland, these banks accounted for the vast majority. Now they have gone off the radar," says one headhunter.

Obviously, Irish emigration is not a new concept, but it's picked up again of late. Over 18,000 Irish-born people left the Emerald Isle in the last 12 months to April 2009 - the bulk of them to the UK, according to the country's Central Statistics Office.

In 12 months, over 174,000 jobs were lost and the unemployment rate more than doubled.

Previously, it was the more mobile junior ranks who would look to London for banking jobs, but this time around most are in senior positions and therefore have deep personal ties to home, says John Mullally, senior consultant, Banking & Financial Services at Robert Walters in Ireland.

"They now feel that they have covered the Dublin market in their job search and have come up with nothing, therefore the next logical step for them is to look in London. Such candidates would have backgrounds in corporate banking, corporate finance, institutional stockbroking, trading, structured credit, and treasury," he says.

Fintan Lawler, banking consultant, Hudson in Ireland, says that bankers are going to the UK out of necessity rather than desire.

"The perception is that the UK financial jobs market has recovered a lot quicker than Ireland," he says. "If candidates have been made redundant in relatively niche roles, there's a lot more choice for them in London."

But are these Irish applicants actually succeeding in a relatively flat UK job market?

Mullally believes so: "Many of the cases have involved candidates whose experience would seem 'undesirable' in the current market in Dublin, such as structured credit portfolio managers/analysts, securitisation specialists, corporate financiers, corporate bankers, debt capital markets bankers."

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