We've been hearing a lot recently that big (or at least bigger) bonuses have returned, and recruitment has changed back from a 'client-driven' market to a 'candidate-driven' one. And here's further validation that the good (or better) times have arrived.
Bloomberg has reported an interview with Lee Whiteing, HSBC's UK travel and company car manager, who said: 'Employee power is back. Certainly in investment banking, we're in a situation where it's an employee's market. Making them stay at cheaper properties, fly economy where they could go business, is not going to wash. They're just going to leave us and go to another institution'.
Not every one agrees with Whiteing's assessment, however, with one banker telling Here Is The City: 'Yes, senior staff are back living higher on the hog, but most of the people I talk to in the market - whether at European or US firms - are still being reined in. The cutbacks we'd had in travel weren't just related to cost controls - some of it was down to firms being more aware of the political environment (which remains hostile), and reining in their horns for image reasons accordingly'.
That said, there's no doubt that the financial reform agenda is forcing all firms to think carefully about how they can retain their best people. With reform proposals likely to impact the bottom line in a variety of ways, bankers who are still able to bring in decent revenues in the brave-new-world are going to be even more in demand, and will need to be looked after.
Another banker told us: 'Although financial reform is designed to rein in banks and bankers, an unintended consequence of some of the stuff that will become law around the world is that some staff, notably those who can continue to generate income without using their firm's capital (M&A bankers and other advisory types, etc), will be able to command bigger bonuses and better perks. Remember, there's no keeping a good banker down'.