US bankers want a piece of the action

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Junior Wall Street bankers are more eager to try their luck in London.

"The number of North American applicants for London-based investment banking roles has increased significantly," says Adam Cairns, a director at recruitment firm Fennemore Banks. "Two years ago we rarely saw any CVs from the USA and Canada. This year we've already placed a good number of North American applicants."

Cairns says US bankers' interest in the City is down to pay scales which are now on a par with Wall Street (the recent salary barometer from US-based compensation consultancy Johnson Associates actually put them 10% higher), plus the perception that Europe is now the land of M&A opportunity. This is despite the fact that growth in European M&A lagged the US in the first quarter, according to Thomson Financial.

The migration should prove good news for UK banks, which are still struggling to find enough junior corporate finance bankers to fill their vacancies. This month's report from Ernst & Young's Item Club put the City's ability to attract international talent as an important factor in its success.

However, a headhunter who hunts more senior scalps says there's been no increase in interest in coming to London among US bankers at senior VP and MD level. "We haven't seen anything dramatic," he says. "At the senior end it's all down to who holds the relationship."

At the junior end, by comparison, it's increasingly just down to relevant deal experience. "If we had North American CVs, clients wouldn't have been interested two years ago - they all wanted European candidates who spoke more than one language," says Cairns. "Now they're interested in hiring talent on both sides of the Atlantic as long as they're technically competent."

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