Babcock hits Europe

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First it was Macquarie Bank, now Australia's small but fast growing investment bank Babcock & Brown is beefing up its presence in the UK.

At a recent presentation, Babcock CEO Phil Green said staff numbers at the bank shot up 59% in the last year, and will grow by another 30% (300 employees) in 2007.

Many of the new positions are expected to come in the UK, US and Europe, where staff numbers grew 72%, 70% and 50% respectively in 2006 as new offices were opened and the firm's total funds under management doubled to more than AU$44bn.

Like Australian rival Macquarie (and most bulge-bracket banks), Babcock & Brown (B&B) might be referred to as a 'millionaires factory'. Last year, its 1,019 employees shared wages and bonuses totalling $662m in calendar 2006.

It's not quite Goldman Sachs (which paid 317k to its average member of staff). But that still equates to around AU$650k (261k) per employee - including secretaries and junior staffers. And if you take into account that nearly one third of these employees were hired during the year and the average staff count over 2006 was around 850, then the average pay check for full-time employees was around AU$780k in 2006.

As with most banks, two thirds of pay at Babcock takes the form of bonuses. Base pay is much more prosaic - averaging out at AU$220k per employee.

Babcock must be doing something right. Staff turnover at most other investment banks averages between 8% and 15%. Asked about staff turnover at Babcock & Brown, Green said, "It's negligible. I think we lost maybe 10 people at most last year."

Not bad, when you consider most other banks lose that number within a day of bonuses hitting bank accounts.

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