FX wizards wanted in Oz

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Australian banks are bulking up their foreign exchange operations. And UK-based staff are their chosen targets.

Recruiters say Oz banks' FX enthusiasm reflects anticipation of a possible burst in the equities bubble, plus growth in hedge funds and derivatives trading.

"I think they are looking to the next (profit growth) area," says Paul Gerrard, general manager of recruiting firm Ambition Finance's Melbourne office.

Gerrard says both investment banks and the major retail banks in Australia have been increasing their foreign exchange staff in the last three to six months and the trend is set to continue. "They really are looking to build up these trading desks," he says.

The Australian foreign exchange market is now the seventh biggest in the world, while US$/AU$ is the fourth mostly heavily traded currency pair, and related exotic trading instruments are becoming more popular.

Much of the hiring is coming from overseas, recruiters say. Adam Kolokotsas, of recruiter Tanner Menzies, says traders from the larger foreign exchange centres such as London have more depth and experience in the development of alternative instruments that have brought new sophistication to hedging and derivates trading.

"The UK is two years ahead of us in that area, and this is enabling people to move across the globe," he says, noting that many of those being hired from overseas are expatriate Australians. "We've had a good deal of luck with people coming back from the UK."

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