Standard Chartered’s new Singapore ED has surprisingly sought-after skills

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As 2019 draws to a close and banks tighten headcount budgets, there are still some pockets of buoyant hiring within Singaporean financial services – wealth management and technology chief among them.

But there’s another job sector that’s experiencing a flurry of musical chairs in the Republic: FX and rates trading.

Among the latest senior traders to move firms is Siddhartha Soni, who’s just joined Standard Chartered from JP Morgan at executive director level as a trader in emerging/frontier markets rates and FX.

Soni had been with JP Morgan since 2007 and first worked as a VP forex trader (market making in spot, forwards and in the interbank market), according to his LinkedIn profile. He was promoted into his most recent role in 2011. Soni started his career in India in 2003 on ICICI’s proprietary trading desk.

Soni’s move to Stan Chart is one of many in FX/rates trading over the past few months in Singapore, some of which involve people shifting in and out of Barclays. As we reported earlier this month, Rahul Mani, a rates and FX trader who left Nomura back in 2017, has resurfaced at Barclays in Singapore as a director. In June, Sagar Sambrani joined Barclays as an emerging markets FX options trader, while Nagendra Pilli came on board as an Asian rates trader. Both men previously worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Meanwhile, former Barclays Asian rates trader Darren Zhang has joined Crescent Asset Management in Singapore. And as we reported in September, Deepak Sood, Barclays’ former Singapore-based head of offshore rates trading, has left the British bank, as has Arnold Bengco, who was a director in the Asian non-deliverable forwards trading team. Their new destinations are unknown. 

Barclays and Stan Chart aren’t the only banks that have been hiring traders in Singapore. Kunal Biswas, a former Credit Suisse director in emerging markets Asia FX trading (who left for hedge fund RV Capital Management in 2016), has just joined Nomura as an executive director in flow FX.

Although several banks (most recently Deutsche, Morgan Stanley and Nomura) have made big job cuts to their Asian equities teams, the job market in rates and FX remains stable in Singapore, although it is mainly driven by replacement hires rather than by banks adding new headcount, say recruiters.

The hiring in Singapore comes as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citi and Bank of America enjoyed “particularly strong” third quarters for rates trading globally, according to research from Deutsche BankSome banks, including Deutsche and NatWest Marketsbucked this positive trend and suffered bad revenues in rates in Q3.

Meanwhile, Asian banks are now emerging as more attractive employers for rates traders. While global banks continue to dominate G3-denominated Asian bonds (sales of bonds in US dollars, euros and yen), Asian firms have overtaken them in domestic currencies, according to a new study from data provider Greenwich Associates.

You might not want to get too comfortable as a trader in Asia, however, because it’s likely that much of banks’ future hiring will focus on technologists. Their “aggressive use of e-trading” is one of the main reasons that Asian banks have overtaken global banks in local-currency markets, the Greenwich report states.

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