Brain Gain: New Shops and Deals Attract Expatriate Bankers to Australia
HONG KONG – Australian expatriate investment bankers are returning home in droves, attracted by the launch of new advisory firms, a strong resumption of transactions and the security of a country relatively free from the coronavirus pandemic.
Signs of a strong economic rebound from a brief pandemic-induced recession highlight a trend that is beginning to reverse a long tradition of Australian bankers heading overseas to more tax-friendly global financial centers .
“There is a brain gain in Australia, we are gaining additional knowledge and experience,” said Nick Hughes, Australia Co-Head at UBS.
Corporate Australia has got off to a scorching start to 2021, with $ 6.21 billion in mergers and acquisitions already underway, more than seven times more than the same period last year, according to data from Refinitiv . This places Australia second in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of transaction value, behind China alone, compared to seventh in the same period in 2020.
The trend is expected to continue in the near term, with major deals such as the possible sale of casino operator Crown Resorts and the divestment of some financial firms underway.
The entry of two boutiques, Barrenjoey Capital and Jarden, into the fray has fueled a war for talent in the country and raised wages by at least 20%, making it a rare bright spot for rainmakers.
Jarden, the Australian branch of the New Zealand investment bank, has hired eight expatriate Australian bankers, traders and analysts as part of its campaign to grow its local franchise, according to a spokesperson.
Goldman Sachs has brought eight Australian offshore workers back to work in Australia, and Swiss bank UBS has taken in four returnees in recent months, bank spokespersons say.
Bank of America (BofA) has hired two senior expatriate bankers, bank chief Joseph Fayyad said.
“With new entrants establishing a presence and incumbents defending their positions, there are more seats available for senior bankers,” Sydney-based Fayyad told Reuters.
Most returnees disembark in Sydney from London and New York. Their experience ranges from mid-career to senior bankers and legal and compliance staff.
They are among the lucky few currently allowed entry into Australia, which has closed its international border to almost all travelers, but nationals and permanent residents returning months ago as a shield against the pandemic. This spectacular step appeared to be paying off, with Australia registering less than 30,000 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases and 910 deaths, far fewer than in many other developed countries.
“I think Australia’s outperformance during COVID has really highlighted the benefits of working and living in the basement, so the combination of more seats available and a greater desire among Australians to return home them really fueled the trend, ”Fayyad said.
“ A LITTLE HUSTLE ”
The return of expats opposes a long-standing trend for Australian financial professionals to relocate, partly to gain experience and partly to escape the relatively high personal income tax rates in Australia.
Local bank executives said the increase in overseas transactions means banks are able to offer bigger paychecks to returnees accustomed to New York and London wages.
Jarden Australia, head of investment bank Aidan Allen, said the “brain gain” has helped the emerging bank grow its team to nearly 100 since launching a year ago.
“A lot of our talent comes from overseas, the people who want to come home have been a huge opportunity for us,” Mr. Allen said. “We think it’s a point of difference, it gave us the opportunity to have a more diverse and experienced bench.”
Rival Barrenjoey launched in September with 50 employees and now has around 220 people, a spokesperson said.
The influx of expatriates should also be a warning to incumbents, said BofA’s Mr. Fayyad: “Bankers who have been here for a while must recognize that there is a new crop of talent that has a bit of a hustle and bustle. , a spring in their approach. , who want to make their mark. – Scott Murdoch / Reuters