Shifting down a tier

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Lost your job at a top-tier bank? There's always the second (or third, or fourth) tier to consider.

The likes of Deutsche, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and UBS may be making redundancies, but headhunters say there's no shortage of smaller players eager to hoover people up. Banks like Investec, Jefferies, Rabobank, Wachovia, West LB, and Bank VTB are all said to be hiring (even in structured credit). Dresdner added two synthetic CDO specialists this week. And according to Financial News, Deutsche is upgrading in M&A.

"We will definitely be hiring across fixed income sales and trading, origination, credit derivatives and equity derivatives," says Steve Thunem, the newly appointed head of the banking practice at VTB. "Across the front office we expect to employ somewhere near 140 people by the end of next year - we still have 60 to 70 to go."

Lee Thacker, a partner at search firm Heidrick & Struggles, says banks are being opportunistic: "With fewer options on the table, they know that people are more likely to consider a lesser brand."

Those lesser brands may still need to put their money on the table. An insider at one firm admits most new hires are likely to demand guaranteed bonuses: "We are not a well-known platform."

Unfortunately, anyone who's been let go by the bigger boys is liable to stand second in line when it comes to filling the new positions. "Their first target will be quality people who were retained but weren't paid," says Thacker. "Only if they can't attract those people will they turn to others who are out of the market."

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