Sizzling Saudi

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Saudi Arabia's banking sector was already hot. Now it's in danger of overheating.

Yassar Toukan, general manager of Saudi recruitment firm Brainlease, says relationship managers are in the highest demand at both commercial and private banks. Relationship managers act as a liaison between the bank and the client and sell the client on bank services.

"Commercial banks are looking to lure and retain large corporate clients; private banks are focusing on high net worth individuals," he says. Candidates should have experience of working in sales and marketing, strong communication and reporting skills and backgrounds in accounting and finance. Pay differs from firm to firm.

Foreign firms are keen to get a piece of the action and have been flocking to the Kingdom. Last week New York investment bank Bear Stearns announced a joint venture with Saudi investors to set up an asset management firm in the Kingdom. Morgan Stanley announced a joint venture there in January.

Investment bank heads are in high demand as well, says Metin Mitchell, an executive headhunter with Los Angeles-based Korn Ferry's Dubai office. Experience running an investment bank is key for these top jobs, with typical base pay of US$400k to US$500k. Banks based in the United States offer yearly bonuses ranging from US$1m to US$5m, with non-US based firms shelling out between US$1m and US$1.5m.

Private equity managers are also in high demand. Again, experience is key for landing a job. Base pays are complex and factor in the percentage of profit one brings in, but salaries are often around US$1m a year.