Brace yourselves for 2007

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With bonuses safely banked, the New Year is traditionally a time of musical chairs in the City - and according to some, the music in 2007 will play even faster than usual.

Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley is predicting a boom in the New Year, with headcounts rising by as much as 25% in some areas.

Morgan McKinley chief executive Robert Thesiger says this year's big growth area - M&A - is likely to continue its spurt after Christmas is over and bonuses are banked.

"We would expect to see further increases in demand at analyst and associate level within corporate finance," he explains. He predicts particular increases at mid-market level. And with opportunities outnumbering people to fill them at all levels, he says salaries are set to continue rising.

Thesiger isn't the only one expressing unrestrained optimism. Rival Joslin Rowe says the 20% growth in headcount numbers it's witnessed this year is likely to be duplicated in 2007.

Andrew Chancellor, managing director of the finance and professional services arm of recruitment firm Robert Walters, says growth will remain strong in particular areas, such as private wealth management, corporate finance and complex derivatives.

But he at least is dubious that headcount increases will be anything near the 25% level. "I just do not think there will be enough people in the marketplace for it to go up that much."

Chancellor says a further spate of financial services mergers could also take the wind out of any hiring next year: "There are rumours of further consolidation among some of the bigger players."

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