In January I spent two weeks in Australia - catching up with friends and family. As has become the norm, everywhere seems to be very busy, and no signs of a slowdown anywhere. But among this general bullishness, it was noticeable that friends trying to get jobs in finance were really struggling to find a job. I have only really looked for job in finance twice. First, as someone who was hired as a graduate trainee in 1999, and then as an emerging markets analyst in 2002. Talking to people the hiring vibe was closer to 2002 than 1999. But when I look at MSCI World, it looks like 1999 rather than 2002.
From a US equity IPO standpoint, however, it does indeed look more like 2002. Issuance collapsed from very elevated levels in 2021.
Emerging market also remain a dead end, with the market still at levels first seen in 2006.
How about Japan then? Well in USD terms, the Nikkei is not that exciting either, but still better.
So why are investment bank busily hiring warm bodies to do sales or launch funds? I would also speculate that a share buyback driven market like the S&P 500 does not really need many financial professionals. When I joined UBS in 2000 senior management believed we were vital cogs in the allocation of scarce capital. Now stock markets are driven by the return of capital. What need of fund managers or investment bankers?
There is one market, that is sucking in capital and in desperate need of experienced fund managers and bankers. Cryptocurrencies. But would you trust a 50 something crypto fund manager? You could if you want to - but bit like Murtagh in Lethal Weapon - aren’t you getting too old for this shit? Or to paraphrase another movie title, there are no markets for old men.