Barclays Capital has made twice as many MDs this year as last year. After a good year, is it getting easier to achieve the much-hallowed managing director status than it used to be?
Probably not - or at least not unless you happen to be at Bar Cap. Citigroup also announced its roster of MDs in the past few weeks and head of HR John Harker says there was no appreciable increase on last year: "We try to keep a steady ratio of MDs to other staff. We don't want to devalue the position by adding too many at once."
So why did Barclays Capital break the bank and go in one fell swoop from 38 MD-promotes in 2006 to 72 MD-promotes in 2007? "Promotions are based on merit and reflect the number of individuals who meet the stringent performance and leadership criteria at this level," a spokeswoman tells us. "Seventy-two is a record number for us, but their performance has been spectacular over a number of years - it's been well earned."
JPMorgan and Merrill Lynch are expected to announce MD-promotes in the coming weeks. Will they be following the Bar Cap precedent, or erring on the side of Citigroup?
A cautious approach is more likely, predicts Aiden Kennedy, a partner at search firm Christian & Timbers: "It's very unusual for a bank to double the number of MDs they promote in a year," he tells us. "Banks may want or need to reward performance to retain talent, but a visible and viable pyramid structure is just as important to maintain."
Could it simply be that Bar Cap's hired in huge numbers of juniors?