- 2019 has been an unexpectedly competitive and vigorous hiring market for top investment bankers, building off an exceptionally active 2018, according to Wall Street headhunters.
- With new leadership gripping the reins at top investment banks, turmoil enveloping others, and a still-scorching dealmaking environment, competition in the US for rainmakers remained at a fever pitch this year.
- We spoke with investment-banking headhunters and consultants who are in the trenches to determine the 40 biggest hires and departures of the year.
Last year was one of the most competitive and vigorous hiring markets in the US for senior investment bankers in recent memory. So it would only seem natural that the frenetic pace would slow in 2019.
Except that it didn’t, at least not by much, according to top Wall Street recruitment and executive search firms.
With new leadership gripping the reins at top investment banks, turmoil enveloping others, and a still-scorching dealmaking environment, competition in the US for top rainmakers remained at a fever pitch this year.
“In America, hiring is widespread and frighteningly competitive,” Julian Bell, regional managing director for the Americas for executive search firm Sheffield Haworth, told Business Insider.
While senior dealmaker hiring has declined upwards of 30% in Europe and Asia, it’s nearly level with 2018 in the US with one month remaining in the year, according to Sheffield Haworth’s data.
That’s in part because the US has been the epicenter of the investment-banking action: While mergers-and-acquisitions deal volumes have cooled in recent months, US-targeted M&A stands at $1.75 trillion, already eclipsing the tally for 2018 and threatening to set a full-year record, according to Dealogic.
Investment-banking revenues in North America fell slightly to $11.1 billion across the industry through the first three quarters, according to Dealogic, whereas in Europe they fell 26% to $4.2 billion and in Asia (not including Japan) they declined 22% to $1 billion.
But new regimes and other trends factor in as well:
- Bank of America and Citigroup each announced new investment-banking leadership toward the end of 2018, and have made concerted efforts to stamp their respective imprints and staff up with top dealmakers.
- The turmoil at Deutsche Bank has left the firm vulnerable, and competitors have seized the opportunity to snatch more than 15 managing directors from the firm’s investment bank in the US. Barclays and Lazard have also been fertile poaching grounds as they deal with shakeups of their own.
- Goldman Sachs is culling its partner ranks, making it a propitious time for bankers to jump to a competitor.
- Firms are increasingly using the vice chairman role to lure veteran bankers with key relationships who want the client impact and big-ticket deal flow of a senior post without all the bureaucracy.
“It’s a pragmatic approach to getting senior access to client relationships,” Albert Laverge, head of Egon Zehnder’s banking and markets practice, told Business Insider. “It gives banks more flexibility, especially since some bankers would rather focus purely on clients than necessarily managing others, and the vice chairman role avoids where to put them in the pyramid.”
While technology and healthcare remain the most competitive hiring grounds, mirroring deal activity, other areas are growing in prominence, including activism-defense groups, which provide close access to top brass at major corporations.
“When an activist situation arises, you don’t have a lot of time and have to have a rapid response,” Laverge said. “Additionally, it’s a good way to have an ongoing dialogue with clients.”
Like we did last year, Business Insider has put together a guide to the most notable moves of 2019. We worked with senior headhunters and consultants who are in the trenches and tracking all the moves to narrow a list of more than 200 hires and departures down to the 40 biggest.
Some caveats: While seniority, title, and platform matter, they aren’t the only criteria in play. Well-respected and impactful managing directors may trump investment bankers with more seniority and responsibility. Additionally, only bankers based in the US were included — we didn’t consider moves in Europe and Asia. Lastly, our list encompasses only professionals who oversee or work directly in investment banking — senior executive departures like Tim Throsby at Barclays, Jamie Forese at Citi, and Tim Sloane at Wells Fargo, while notable, don’t make the cut.
Read on for Business Insider’s list of the 40 most significant and noteworthy hires and departures in investment banking in 2019.
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