Metals traders tooling up

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A shortage of physical metals traders is creating problems for recruiters.

John Byrne, business development director of commodity-focused recruitment firm DNA, says there's been a shortage of physical metals traders ever since banks withdrew from commodities a few years ago.

The deficit is creating problems as metals hiring picks up. At the end of last month, for example, Financial News reported that Credit Suisse plans to triple the size of its metals trading team in an effort to compete with market leaders Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital.

Jakob Bloch, managing director of Commodity Appointments, tells us there's additional strong demand from physical metals traders across Europe and the Middle and Far East.

Byrne says US investment banks are paying physical metals traders between 80k and 120k a year base salary, and up to a million dollars in bonus. But he says traders at one US house who only had a couple of years' experience were recently 'shown the door' when they asked a rival for US$1m simply to sign on.

Not all metals traders are on superstar packages, says Byrne: the "fundamentally driven, physical old guard" in Canadian banks are being ignored by the mega-banks because they are not a "cultural fit".

To meet the demand, Bloch says banks are increasingly moving people across from other commodity desks.

Whether there will be a rush into metals is open to question, however - Bloch and Byrne both say metals hiring isn't as hot as hiring for oil, gas/power, emissions and bio-energy. Meanwhile, UBS is said to be setting up a new agricultural commodities trading team based jointly in Singapore and London.

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