Credit research: The rising stars
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Credit research: The rising stars

Credit research has leapt out of the back office. Spotting a cute arbitrage can make millions and banks are paying up for creative users of this fundamental talent. Their thinking? With the coming of the euro, credit differential will be a bigger factor. And in Asian markets there's growing demand for credit expertise. Brian Caplen encounters some at the cutting edge.

If you're young, bright, ambitious and out to make a fortune in London or Hong Kong, choosing a career path is easy ­ get into credit research. Once a humdrum, nine-to-five job performed by academics, credit research is now an entrepreneurial task with huge rewards. Experienced analysts are some of the most sought after people in finance.

"It's gone crazy. Headhunters are calling up all day long," says Joseph Biernat, director of global credit research at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, who is building up a team in London. "Hong Kong is even wilder."

In Hong Kong senior staff are pulling in as much as US$1,000,000 a year while in London the range is between £100,000 and £300,000 including bonuses for juniors, going up to £500,000 for those with longer experience. Huge demand is driving up salaries: it's doubled them over the past two years. Meanwhile, investment banks are having to cast their nets wider to find staff. Rating agencies are the traditional recruitment ground, yet suitable analysts in these companies are being poached faster than they can be trained. Banks are looking further afield, sometimes taking people out of internal credit or sales, or even persuading equity analysts to switch.

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