Coutts is hiring. Be aware that it only wants senior people and may pay a very big base and quite a small bonus

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Coutts has let it be known that it’s looking for private bankers. In today’s Financial Times, Michael Morley, chief executive of Coutts UK, elaborates on the bank’s appetite for hiring. Morley says Coutts wants ‘senior executives’ in the UK, the Middle East, Asia, Switzerland and eastern Europe.

20 senior executives have come already, says Morley. Another 10 are coming soon. And another 15 are imminent in the Middle East.  They include investment professionals, risk professionals, and client professionals. City Am also claims today that Coutts will mostly be hiring in the Middle East and has finished hiring in the UK,  but we are informed by a Coutts spokesman that this isn’t entirely true: “We will be growing our business faster internationally than in the UK but we still will be growing in the UK,” he explains.

Who will Coutts be hiring? It’s been briefing headhunters that it wants investment professionals according to Wealth Briefing, implying that individuals with structured product backgrounds might even be in with a chance. Last week, it announced the hiring of Paul Sarozy from Credit Suisse as head of investment solutions.  Sarozy reportedly has’ 20 years’ experience in product development, investment and sales with institutional asset managers and wealth managers’.

Hunting the hunters

However, the stampede in private banking is still for ‘hunters’ according to recruiters. Hunters being defined as senior people who can actually bring assets, preferably worth £50m or more, “Everyone, including Coutts, wants hunters,” says Stephen Heal, managing director at executive search firm HB International. If you’re a hunter, says Heal you might even be able to get a guaranteed bonus, such is the demand for you.

If you’re not a hunter, or if you’re a more junior private banker, it seems Coutts will not be interested in you (they only claim to want senior executives, who now comprise 8% of their staff, compared to 6% a year ago).

“There’s very limited demand at the junior end,” explains Heal, “private banks have limited bullets to fire and they’re only going to fire them if they get someone who’s going to make a difference.”

Giant base, small bonus

Another wealth management headhunter, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the sorts of hunters who go to Coutts are not particularly red-blooded ones.

“They’re not really hunter gatherers, but more steady eddies,” he says. “Coutts doesn’t really attract particularly entrepreneurial people because of its bonus structure.”

As part of RBS, Coutts ability to pay bonuses is constrained, he adds. It apparently tries to compensate for this by paying higher than average salaries of £170-200k for top people, plus an additional 30% in flexible benefits. However, bonuses are diminutive.

“If you join another bank, your base salary will be lower, but if you’re a big revenue generator your bonus and take-home will be far, far higher,” the anonymous headhunter adds. Heal says some banks are paying up to $450k (£283k) in guarantees for hunting types.

The anonymous headhunter says he hasn’t seen Coutts hiring many juniors either: “They only seem to recruit juniors if they’re part of a senior person's team.”

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