Advisory boutiques eye a Brexit bounce in talent search

Ken Moelis

Amid all the talk of the City’s big banks potentially moving thousands of staff out of London in the wake of last week’s vote, smaller firms like Greenhill & Co, Moelis & Co and Perella Weinberg are hoping the decision to leave the EU will encourage even more talent in their direction.

Scott Bok, the chief executive of Greenhill, said Brexit would not affect his firm’s hiring plans, adding: “If anything, even more high quality bankers who work for the European banks, either in Europe or in the US will be wanting a new home.”

Mark Aedy, the head of investment banking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Moelis, said: “We see this period as a period of opportunity to make selective hiring.”

Large investment banks have already warned that some positions may move out of the UK. JP Morgan said in a staff memo on June 24 that “the location of some roles” may change in the coming months, while Morgan Stanley’s president Colm Kelleher has pointed to cities including Frankfurt and Dublin as options for a new Europe HQ.

HSBC has also spoken of moving some investment banking jobs – possibly to Paris – in the event of Brexit.

Richard Hoar, a director of finance at recruitment firm Goodman Masson, said staff at large organisations were already unsettled following a bad start to the year for dealmaking and a string of redundancy rounds. This trend, he said, was now unlikely to change – and that could play into the hands of smaller firms.

“Since Friday we’ve not heard or seen any evidence that this hiring [from the boutiques] is going to be curtailed by the Brexit vote,” he said. “It’s business as usual and they are continuing to grab talent from the larger shops. Most of the larger banks will continue to be driven by cost considerations.”

Paulo Pereira, a London-based partner at Perella Weinberg Partners, told FN: “ We expect that the result of the UK referendum will impact the M&A market, but our clients will need our advice more than ever, transactions will be pursued, and new opportunities will arise.”

He added: “We continue to plan for growth in our business.”

Moelis has already added one senior banker to its ranks in the days since the vote, though this was not a result of it. On June 28, it announced the hire of Greg Starkins from Deutsche Bank as a managing director to work with industrial, aerospace and defence clients. Starkins will start in September and be based in New York but will be in London regularly working on European deals, according to Aedy.

PJT Partners, the advisory firm established by ex-Morgan Stanley dealmaker Paul Taubman, has made four hires in its London office since May, according to a person familiar with the firm’s hiring plans.

Simon Dowker, a chemicals specialist most recently at Jefferies and a former FN Rising Star, has joined the firm, as has Tarek Aguizy, an ex-Morgan Stanley banker. Alastair White has joined as an associate from Credit Suisse, while James Critchley, a healthcare banker most recently at Deutsche Bank, has joined as vice-president. PJT is likely to slow its rate of hiring after these recent arrivals, but the person said this decision was not affected by Brexit.

In February, [Moelis’s CEO, the former UBS rainmaker Ken Moelis, said following his firm’s record full-year results that “if you’re in an advisory position at one of the big European banks, right now there are a number of concerns. I think the volatile market might make people at other [bulge bracket] banks move.”

During 2015 the firm added a net 81 bankers, including 11 managing directors, with hires including Barclays‘ former co-head of consumer retail in Europe, Costas Kalisperas, JP Morgan‘s ex-chemicals head Jan-Philipp Pfander and Barclay’s former oil and gas specialist Chris Shaw.

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