In what is being taken as an ominous sign of things to come, it emerged last week that Brevan Howard, the darling of Mayfair, is opening an office in Switzerland to house up to 100 employees.
Brevan reportedly has 250 people at its head office in London, so the Swiss office will be comparatively substantial. Given the dual pressures of the EU's Alternative Investment Fund Managers' directive and next April's tax increase, it's been taken as proof that London's place at the top of the hedge fund hierarchy is under threat, and that Geneva is ascending fast.
However, London-based hedge fund headhunters say there's absolutely no diminution in traders' enthusiasm to work for hedge funds based in London and that the number of job opportunities here is growing.
"London is still seen as the place to be," says David Durham of Durham Consultants. "Pay scales in London are of an order of magnitude better than you'll get on the continent, and the top people in Paris, Frankfurt and Milan all want to be based here."
Tanya Lutyens of Lutyens Da Cunha, a hedge fund search firm, agrees. "We are not yet seeing the mass exodus to Switzerland which people are talking about. People remain relatively committed to London, and are loathe to uproot their families when they're settled and in school etc."
Lutyens adds that the London hedge fund hiring market has become a lot more active over the past month: "We are seeing a significant increase in hiring activity across investment and sales. The long short space is definitely the most active, with credit not far behind."
Ironically, one of the big hirers in London recently has been Brevan Howard, which added three new partners earlier this month, and Bruce Levitt from Soros as a director.