From Singapore to London to New York, headhunters and rival lenders have been fielding calls over the past few days from anxious Credit Suisse staff, according to people from more than a dozen firms with knowledge of the matter.
One firm in Singapore handled questions from about 30 mostly Credit Suisse private bankers about available jobs on Monday, while another recruiter in Hong Kong has been talking to more than 20 senior investment bankers since last week, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Meanwhile, a firm that’s focused on managing director hires said it has received such calls since late Friday, especially for the wealth area.
A headhunter in London — where Credit Suisse employs about 5,500 people, according to its website — said he has been fielding calls all weekend, particularly from those in the equities division where the overlap with existing business at UBS is extensive. But the prospect of other firms going on a Credit Suisse-focused hiring binge is unlikely with firms looking to make a limited number of hires the most likely scenario.
In New York, one headhunter said several thousand people at Credit Suisse had been hoping to join Credit Suisse First Boston — the investment-banking spinoff at the heart of the Swiss lender’s earlier restructuring efforts. That now looks unlikely to happen and many will be hoping to join UBS, according to Michael Nelson, managing director at recruitment firm Quest Group in New York.
“If they aren’t going to CSFB they will have to be migrated into UBS fixed-income, which is a much smaller business than Credit Suisse,” he said in an interview. “My guess is they will dismiss them and turn them out onto the street.”
The flurry of calls highlight the heightened anxiety by Credit Suisse’s staff amid a takeover that has been described by UBS chairman Colm Kelleher as an “emergency rescue”. Their search for new opportunities however collides with a difficult job market where major banks from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Nomura Holdings are cutting roles as clients stay on the sidelines, whether it is dealmaking or trading.
“We are encouraging colleagues to continue to the best of their abilities against a difficult backdrop,” a Singapore-based Credit Suisse spokeswoman said in response to queries from Bloomberg. “Ultimately, we will do everything we can to ensure an orderly transition and to serve our clients as best as possible.” UBS referred to its Sunday statement about the deal when asked about the situation.
Will Tan, a managing director at Singapore-based recruiter Principle Partners Pte, said the approaches from Credit Suisse staff have intensified over the past month and the firm is seeing even more resumes now from the bank across Asia.
“The best ones at Credit Suisse have probably already left,” Tan said. He pointed to a challenging environment for hiring. “There’s definitely not enough to go around for everyone.”
An Asian headhunter said one director wanted to know if it was a good time to move now, or whether staff would be perceived as a “distressed asset”. Employees in investment consulting, compliance, legal and audit would worry over their jobs, given duplications with UBS, while relationship managers may be in a better position, according to the recruiter, who declined to be named.
Welcoming new colleagues
When announcing the deal, UBS CEO Ralph Hamers said the combination supports the firm’s wealth management growth ambitions in the Americas and Asia. He added UBS looks forward to welcoming new clients and colleagues across the world.
But UBS was clear there will be job cuts, with the investment bank it is inheriting likely to be particularly affected. UBS wants to cherry pick top dealmakers from Credit Suisse’s investment bank instead of supporting a plan to build a new independent firm, according to people familiar with the discussions.
While no figure was given for a job-cut number, a person familiar with the matter has estimated that the cuts could be multiples of Credit Suisse’s existing plans to shed 9,000 roles.
The two lenders together employed almost 125,000 people at the end of last year, with about 30% of the total in Switzerland.
Several Credit Suisse alumni took to social media offering help and advice, with London-based Hanadi Al Hamoui — who spent a decade at the Swiss bank — inviting her ex-colleagues to reach out if she can be of help, according to a Linkedin post. Others in the private equity world like Spartan Advisors LLC are also smelling opportunities to pick up talent, asking affected staff to reach out. BM/DM