2015 began well for rates traders, with Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and others benefiting from a strong first quarter in rates trading. Unfortunately, the good run hasn't lasted. Six months into the year and rates traders' fortunes have plummeted.
"Rates is very quiet in terms of hiring," says one rates headhunter, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Everyone had a good January and got a bit excited, but February and March were bad and it's continued that way. 2015 is looking the same as last year - dead."
Worse, with bond markets destructively volatile it seems rates traders are continuing to leach onto the street. Headhunters say Credit Suisse recently let go of a number of senior trading professionals. The bank didn't immediately respond to a request to comment, but the FCA Register and the bank's current staff confirm the recent departure of Amit Suman and Panos Giannopoulos, directors on the rates desk, along with Kilian Frensch, a VP-level rates derivatives trader, and Mike Serrero, head of European government bond trading at the bank. We understand that Frensch resigned before any redundancies took place.
"The rates market feels very slow. It's not a booming market any more and banks are adjusting headcount for future revenue expectations," says one trader from the Swiss bank.
Headhunters say Calyon has also let go of rates professionals in recent weeks, and a rumour is circulating that BNP Paribas' rates desk has made a significant loss. The French bank declined to comment. Meanwhile, HSBC (which also didn't respond to a request to comment) is said to have recently combined its rates and FX sales professionals into a single team.
BNP is in the process of cutting 100 jobs from its fixed income business, with rates reputedly at the forefront of the cuts. Headhunters say at least half of the layoffs are in support functions, however.