Once bonuses are safely banked, should corporate financiers be hedging their bets and moving to the restructuring sector?
Maybe, according to one headhunter. "This feels like the top of the [M&A] market," says Aidan Kennedy, a consultant at search firm Christian & Timbers. "Pipelines currently look strong and most M&A units are running at capacity but that's usually a good indicator that we are nearer to the down-slope than we think."
Meanwhile, as we've noted (several) times before, the restructuring market is looking increasingly perky.
Blackstone piled into the European market this week with the addition of Martin Gudgeon, heavyweight restructurer and former chief executive of Close Brothers Corporate Finance. And Antonio Alvarez III, head of the restructuring advisory boutique Alvarez & Marshall, was cited in the Financial Times as saying the restructuring market is in the grips of a "war for talent".
Different sector, same weapons
If you're a corporate financier, it shouldn't be hard to infiltrate the battleground.
"I have a corporate finance and M&A background and I don't see restructuring as being so different," says the head of restructuring at one European bank in London. "It's about a change of control, valuation, assessing a business plan and calculating a financing strategy going forward - all those aspects are present in corporate finance deals."
What corporate financiers may be lacking, however, is debt capital markets experience. "You'll need strong balance sheet management from a financing perspective," says Kennedy.
Kennedy stops short of advising anyone to move into restructuring purely as means to riding out any imminent downturn, however.
"Stepping in and out of restructuring when it suits you is not good career planning," he says. "It [restructuring] remains highly specialised and requires longer term commitment in the same way that maintaining client relationships through downturns is the sign of a committed and forward thinking corporate financier."