20% pay increases and multiple offers: maybe you shouldn’t ignore this area of banking any longer

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Glamorous? No. Exciting? Perhaps not. But you can’t deny that transaction banking is a buoyant area for recruitment currently. Vacancies have swelled in the past six months, to the point where people with the relevant skill-sets (and there’s not that many of them) are receiving multiple offers and pay rises of up to 20%.

Transaction banking is actually benefiting from the Eurozone crisis – J.P. Morgan’s division was up 39% year-on-year, while Deutsche Bank has increased revenues in its global transaction services arm by 10% on 2011.

In no particular order, recruiters inform us that the following banks are hiring for transaction services: Deutsche Bank, RBS, Bank of China, Citi, ANZ, ICBC and Lloyds Banking Group.

One recruitment manager focusing on transaction services for a large international bank tells us: “The main challenge is knowing how much we should be paying people. Salaries have increased across the board, but convincing head office that this is happening remains a challenge. We have to pay more to attract the right people, or at least remain competitive.”

Part of the challenge, says Paul Hunt, managing director of recruiters Healy Hunt, is that investment banks hoovered up all the best graduates in the years leading up to the financial crisis and therefore experienced people across the main elements of transaction services – cash management, trade finance, export finance and corporate treasury sales – are still hard to find.

“Many banks are either starting greenfield projects around transaction services or building out their existing platform,” he says. “The problem, however, is that the under investment in the sector over recent years and the fact that transaction services has been out of vogue until recently means that there is a significant shortage of candidates in the 5–10 year experience range with strong client-facing skills.”

Not surprisingly salaries are on their way up. Salaries in trade finance come it at £50-60k for those with 3-5 years' experience, rising to £70-80k after 5-10 years’ experience, £85-95k after 10-15 years and £110-120k for anything over that, according to the 2011 salary survey by Global Trade Review.

Hunt says that salaries for sales staff have increased by 20% this year, while Katherine Ibbotson, who focuses on corporate and investment banking at Selby Jennings, says pay has increased by 20-25% across the board.

This isn’t restricted to the UK – Hunt says that transaction services professionals being poached out of local banks in Asia into international firms have received uplifts of 35-45%, although their previous salary would have been at the lower end of the scale.

“For every front office investment banking role on our books currently, we have five transaction banking positions,” says Ibbotson. “The best people have more than one offer on the table so – unlike other parts of the financial sector – hiring managers are not delaying decisions.”

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