These small players are planning big hiring in 2010

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Everyone's supposed to be hiring this year - if only to fill in the gaps from an expected wave of resignations once bonuses have been announced. But some places are hiring a lot more enthusiastically than others. Even better, many of those places are low-profile and may therefore evade the worst of the bonus shame being heaped upon large competitors players.

They include:

1) Daiwa Capital Markets

Part of Daiwa, Japan's second largest brokerage firm, Daiwa Capital Markets isn't necessarily small, but it's not a big player in investment banking, and it's growing.

Much of the expansion is likely to be outside Europe. Daiwa intends to become one of the top ten investment banks in Asia ex-Japan by March 2013, and plans almost double its headcount within two years, from 650 currently. An 'aggressive push' is expected soon. A spokesperson for the bank confirms they're currently hiring 300 across equity and derivatives product lines in Asia, plus 100 M&A bankers in Hong Kong.

However, recruitment is also likely at Daiwa in Europe. Last week, it emerged that the bank had hired two senior directors (from RBC and Goldman) for its London fixed income business. The spokesperson says they continue to hire and to, "strengthen the back office."

2) Renaissance Capital

Renaissance Capital is planning some dramatic emerging markets-related hiring.

Yesterday, Financial News said the Russian bank, which slashed 40% of its staff in 2008, now intends to hire between 200 and 250 staff this year. Longer term, Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be a major area of focus: RenCap currently employs 75 staff there; it sees this increasing to as much as 600 with five years.

RenCap wants to become the world's number one house for oil, gas, metals and mining sector advisory work, implying a focus on M&A hiring. One London-based emerging markets headhunter told us it will pay competitively (

"New York and London market rates") and will offer guarantees.

3) RBC Capital Markets

Like Daiwa Capital Markets, RBC Capital Markets is part of a larger organization with aspirations to expand its presence in investment banking. RBC has been doing some big hiring in the US, where it's added more than 100 senior bankers in the past year.

One senior London insider at RBC says they're also planning to expand the equities and investment banking areas of the business this side of the Atlantic in 2010.

RBC is also engaged in some huge hiring for RBC Wealth Management. Last year it hired 500 people for its international business.

4) Jefferies

Jefferies also indulged in some large hiring last year, and is expected to continue adding people in reasonable numbers during 2010.

Headcount at the bank rose by around 400 people in 2009, with the addition of 100 people in London alone, including 17 to its (Asia and) London fixed income teams in October.

Also in October, Jefferies said European expansion was its principal focus, followed by Asia and India. Jefferies' European intentions were reiterated in its 4Q conference call last week.

Like RenCap, Jefferies appears to have the advantage of being a good payer. Last year, its employees earned around $455k a head (compared to approximately $498k at Goldman). And chief executive Richard Handler told the Wall Street Journal they can pay their people, "what they deserve to be paid...We are only beholden to our shareholders."

5) Santander

Santander is also engaged in some rapid expansion.

Late last year, the Spanish bank hired two of RBS's most senior syndicated bond bankers. And Bloomberg reported in December that it plans to hire 200 bankers people for its global wholesale banking and markets division.

However, as we pointed out at the time, with compensation costs just 22% of income, Santander doesn't seem to be a great payer unfortunately.

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