Equities pain as small brokerages close, cut jobs, slash pay

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Bad things are afoot in the world of London's smaller equities houses. Bonuses have been lousy and some brokerages are cutting staff or closing altogether, according to sources close to the situation.

Westend Brokers Limited, the UK subsidiary of German investment bank Silvia Quandt & Cie. may wind down. Director Holger Schmidt told us the office has gone from five people last year to two now. Closure isn't still certain, said Schmidt, but it's likely - he's found a new job back in Germany. Schmidt set up the London office of Westend Brokers in 2008.

Separately, Keefe Bruyette & Woods (KBW), the financial services-focused brokerage and investment bank, has been reducing staff in London. KBW declined to comment but the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) register shows that the bank has cut 30% of its FSA registered staff in London since January 2012, reducing FSA registered headcount from 59 to 41 people in the process.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, headhunters said staff at smaller firms who haven't lost their jobs are seeing their pay curtailed. Liberum Capital, the UK-focused boutique bank founded in 2007, is said to have withheld quarterly bonus payments since the third quarter of 2012. Liberum declined to comment, but one employee who spoke off the record confirmed this to be the case. He also said that Liberum still caps salaries at £150k, making bonuses there all the more important.

Finally, Numis, the UK corporate finance and brokerage house, is also said to have been frugal when compensating its staff. Directors at Numis agreed to waive their bonuses earlier this year, but one headhunter who works with the firm said bonuses were down significantly. Numis declined to comment.

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