FX/EM Market Moves & Commentary 2020

2020 was a year like no other. It would be a challenge to summarize the many ways the Covid19 pandemic impacted all of us, but not everything was bad and there were silver linings. I hope everyone reading this report is staying safe and adapting as we navigate this unprecedented time. We have high hopes for 2021 and embrace the new year with enthusiasm.

The pandemic and the world’s response was the whole story this year, overshadowing all other major events and developments. From a logistical and risk management perspective, it was remarkable how quickly markets adapted to a remote (WFH) model. Against what many believed was not possible for Wall Street, this forced experimentation allowed business to continue and bank earnings to reach record levels.

Recruiting activity came to a halt late March but picked up again into the summer. We noticed more trading hires this year, especially in options and EM. In sales we saw a renewed interest in the macro space. We also observed a number of candidates leaving financial markets to pursue different career paths. Many banks instituted a moratorium on both hiring and reductions during Covid that kept overall activity down. We may see a flurry of changes in the first quarter of the year as those restrictions are lifted and headcount adjustments are made.

We expect talent acquisition to be selective again in 2021, and the theme will remain centered around recruiting for junior and diverse candidates. Emerging markets and derivatives will be a focus, corporate solutions and structuring roles seem to be popping up, and of course the investment in automation and e will stay strong. Hiring managers have a new skill they need to look for: candidates who work well independently and can self manage. As it has been the past few years, it will be 2nd and 3rd tier shops who will be the most active as they look to gain market share. Candidates are gravitating to places that exhibit a strong commitment to growth and a collaborative culture.

Download the full report: Artemis Consulting 2020 Moves and Commentary


News and Updates from Artemis

Check out our latest newsletter with market updates, people moves and more.

Click here for our latest newsletter from January 2021


News and Updates from Artemis

Check out our latest newsletter with market updates, people moves and more.

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News and Updates from Artemis Consulting

This has been a challenging time for us all, reminding us of life’s fragility, and the importance of health, family and community. We are adapting here at Artemis and remain optimistic of the opportunities ahead. With that enthusiasm for the future, we want to share our inaugural newsletter and hope it sparks interesting conversations with you all. Stay safe!

News and Updates from Artemis Consulting


FX/EM Market Moves & Commentary 2019

Trade tensions, slowing global growth, central bank intervention and geopolitical unrest contributed to softening macro environment and low currency market volatility. As a result, global foreign exchange activity was down this year, with many banks reporting results well below budget.

Hiring activity kept up a moderate pace at all levels with both US and foreign banks looking to upgrade and take advantage of available talent due to shifting strategies.  We saw a continuation from last year in EM trading hires, an uptick in corporate sales moves, and a good number of e sales and e trading hires. Most of the institutional hires were for real money sales, and there were fewer spot and options hires than ever. Also, the quest for diversity was (and remains) feverish.

We expect talent acquisition to be selective again in 2020 and believe it will be 2nd and 3rd tier shops who will be the most active as they look to gain market share. Candidates are gravitating to places that exhibit a strong commitment to growth and a collaborative culture.

Compensation season is underway and the mood is dismal. Banks have been managing expectations down, but it is hard to swallow given the stronger than expected fixed income profits in the 4th quarter. Early communicators are paying voice FX down 15 25%, and in some cases more (and in fewer cases less). Corporate FX and EM FX fared a bit better, and eFX folks are flat or up small.
The subtext is telling us this is a wholesale repricing of the industry which we suspect is the new normal.

Artemis Consulting 2019 Moves and Commentary


Are your trading desks properly staffed with traders who have the experience to navigate the looming volatility in currency markets?

Read how sharp currency moves are an alarming sign that geopolitical machinations affecting U.S. stocks are spreading to foreign exchange and other markets in this very interesting WSJ article. https://www.wsj.com/articles/sharp-drops-in-currencies-hint-at-spreading-volatility-1523790000?mod=djem10point


FX/EM Market Moves & Commentary 2017

Regulation, MIFID II, automation, AI, bitcoin and Trump tweets were the themes circulating in the markets last year. 2017 began with a new US president and administration that had the business wondering what would be in store for markets.

Still struggling with a low-volatility environment, underperforming clients and lower volumes, the foreign exchange market had a lackluster year. However, there were forces at play that improved hiring activity significantly including European banks looking to reposition themselves, large US banks rebuilding trading teams and a few new initiatives. While recruiting was seen across the board, we witnessed an uptick in senior-level hires after a long stretch where firms had been investing exclusively on building junior talent, an unusual amount of activity in corporate sales and a flurry of moves into FX spot and options trading roles as banks sought to position themselves for smart risk taking driven by a perceived softening of regulatory constraints. Also of note, several traders who had left Wall Street for the buyside after the crisis have made their way back.

We remain optimistic for recruiting activity to continue at a good pace into the new year as shifting agendas require upgrading talent. Candidates are interested in the rebuilding and growth stories that are coming out of several platforms, while the status quo isn’t as appealing as it used to be.

Compensation season is underway and many will be glad when it is behind us as bonus pools are lower by 10-20% this year. It seems a disappointing 4th quarter took its toll on revenues and put a damper on variable compensation. MD’s and desk heads are taking the hit so that management can pay up-and-coming juniors and the top producers with an eye on talent retention.

Download the full report: Artemis Consulting 2017 Moves and Commentary


Dramatic change in negotiating offer terms is on the way

The new law passed by the NYS Legislature, taking effect this November, will bring about a drastic change in the way Wall Street negotiates offers with candidates. While this is intended to narrow or eliminate the gender pay gap, we foresee some awkwardness as the industry adjusts to a new paradigm in compensation discussions.



FX/EM Market Moves & Commentary for 2016

2016 started off with a market meltdown led by China and oil prices that shook everyone’s confidence. Currency markets saw extreme moves and the interest rate picture remained highly uncertain. In the meantime, FX Volumes came into the New Year on record lows and all players were concerned about what 2016 would hold. During the months of January and February we endured the most anemic recruiting spell in our 17 year history. Conditions improved after the first quarter and the year had its share of volatility, but we also spent large stretches of time in limbo, driven by uncertainty over Brexit, then uncertainty ahead of the US election. However, once November 8th was behind us we experienced a palpable return of optimism and action in the market and we saw deals closing even late into the year. With fixed income profits returning, a positive outlook into 2017 for the macro trading environment and modulating regulation concerns, we look to see a brighter future for the participants in our markets.

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FX/EM Market Moves and Commentary for 2015

This was an eventful year bringing some much needed volatility back into the market, although not without consequences. And while FX revenues were strong this year for many institutions, it was not enough to overcome the pressure of dwindling Fixed Income business, higher cost-of capital, continued regulatory pressures and client malaise. With cost cutting being the best way to improve bottom-line figures, banks targeted their more senior, more expensive personnel when it came to making cuts. Senior management made up a large percentage of lay-offs as these institutions streamlined their teams and reorganized business lines.

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Hedge Funds Pick-up Sell-side Talent

As witnessed by Jeff Feig’s movement to Fortress Investments, there is a notable trend of sell side professionals finding new roles and new opportunities on the buy side. According to industry reports, hedge fund and fund-of-funds AUM grew from $2.6 trillion in 2013 to approximately $3 trillion in 2014. This type of growth creates demand for those talented traders and strategists who can add alpha. In this hemisphere, there were a few notable moves in 2014 worth highlighting. Rich Tang, formerly head of North America Sales at RBS and a 20 year veteran of the firm, joined Element Capital; Peter Antico, formerly head of rates trading at Credit Suisse with a long sell side career, joined Convexity Capital Management and Mitesh Parikh, formerly Goldman London’s European head of FX Spot Trading, joined Balyasny in New York. Research & Economics folks were also pulled to the buyside with moves such as Julia Coronado, former Chief US Economist at BNP NY, to Graham Capital; Dean Maki, former Chief US Economist at Barclays Capital, to Point 72; Pablo Goldberg , former head of Global EM Research at HSBC, to BlackRock; Jose Ursua, former International Economist at Goldman, to Dodge and Cox and Igor Arsenin, formerly Head of Barclays EM Asia Rates Strategy to Balyasny. We expect to see the flow of both talent and investment dollars towards the alternative investment arena to continue into 2015.


Lori Courtney quoted in FX Week on Senior FX Departures

Senior FX departures highlight changing market structure

Author: Robert Mackenzie Smith

Source: FX Week | 02 May 2014

Issues ranging from low volatility, benchmark investigations to regulatory change have led to senior participants leaving the market either temporarily or permanently

The recent global departures at the very top of the foreign exchange industry represent a growing trend that is likely to continue this year, as low volatility, decreased client activity and increased compliance duties have irreversibly changed the roles of senior positions at banks, say market participants.

Since the turn of the year, FX Week has reported on 11 departures unconnected with the current FX benchmark investigations, nine of which have been global desk heads at different banks with decades of experience, including Deutsche Bank, Citi and Goldman Sachs (see list below).

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Data Points – Harnessing Value from Mountains of Data

We found this blog entry, Data Predetermined the Real Winner in the Latest US Election interesting.


Great Questions to Ask on Interviews

When preparing candidates for job interviews we are sometimes asked what questions they should ask the potential employer.  This article by Jeff Haden in Inc. Magazine: Job Interviews: 5 Questions Great Candidates Ask, poses some good options.  It is important to note that no matter how senior-level you are, it is good to go over the basics.  Wall Street Oasis, targeting candidates in the early stages of their career can be a good site to review.


Quantifying the Quants

Check out this blog entry on the meaning of all things quant. We think you will find the premise of this piece, written by Andy Nguyen on www.quantnet.com, thought provoking.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Applied to a person, the Platonic ideal is someone with a quantitative PhD and a deep understanding of financial theory, who applies herself in creative and important ways to financial practice, and who has an engineer’s openness and honesty. For every ideal quant there are many people who share some of these characteristics to different degrees. There is no bright line distinction that is accepted generally, just people with different levels of quantness…”


Not all job losses are created equally

Bloomberg reports the job loss figures for 2011-2012 will now surpass the number of jobs lost in 2008 through 2009.  What can job seekers expect in 2011 and beyond? To set the tone, I quote Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup on his outlook “Financial services face an extremely challenging operating environment with an unprecedented combination of market uncertainty, sustained economic weakness in developed economies and the most substantial regulatory changes we have seen in our lifetimes.” This is dire stuff, but can’t we expect some turn around in jobs once developed economies right themselves? The answer depends on whether the job losses are a result of cyclical or structural changes. Widening Sovereign spreads, ratings downgrades, Euro fragmentation and political and financial headwinds in the US are causing uncertainty for the industry. As earnings have slipped, banks have been quick to trim staff.  Trading and Sales teams were reduced, expansion plans were shelved, and noncore businesses were eliminated. If these are cyclical factors, then we would expect the usual rebound in hiring once developed economies recover.  Structural changes are tougher to navigate. According to a report conducted by Federal Reserve Economists, Erica Groshen and Simon Potter,(http://www.ny.frb.org/research/current_issues/ci9-8.pdf), there may be different dynamics at work when industries are effected by structural change. Hiring managers tend to “let the dust settle before they start rehiring”.  Groshen and Potter observed that in recent recessions the job losses tended to be more structural and therefore more permanent.  Structural change could also signal job gains as well as losses.  Jobs can migrate or relocate within a broad industry. The willingness for hedge funds to hire skilled traders from banks, as banks exit proprietary trading activities is a perfect example of this relocation. Hedge fund assets have grown  to record levels in 2011 to $2 trillion according to Chicago based Hedge Fund Research. If there is a silver lining it would be that growth in that sector will require infrastructure building e.g. PMs, Research, Trading and Risk Management. Implementation of Dodd Frank has created demand for professionals who have a solid understanding for clearing mechanisms and for those well versed on the new standards. These are examples of how structural change can have a positive effect on other areas within our industry. For those in the throes of a job search, it may help your search strategy to think about where gains are being made elsewhere in our financial industry and how you can position yourself accordingly.


Stealth Reductions in Force

”A Stealth reduction in Force”  is how one professional put it. We are hearing of light job cuts across the industry in Fixed Income( in US). Strategic hires made in 2009 and 2010 have come under pressure as trading volumes have dropped and client interest has been quieter than normal .  The moves tend to be selective and handled very quietly, allowing some folks to seek alternate positions internally (where possible) or are being encouraged to find outside positions while they are on notice.  Another troubling sign is the lack of urgency in replacing voluntary resignations.  Even darling areas such as FX and Emerging Markets have  seen a few reductions.  The most notable cuts have been observed at the Director and Managing Director levels.  Sales teams appear to have been  more effected than trading and research.  At an investor conference recently, one investment bank CFO warned that more cuts are likely as profit margins remain  depressed and the US economy ambles along. What we need is a quick resolution to the US Debt ceiling and a believable resolution to the Europe Debt crisis to pull us out of these  market doldrums.


Just Four Global Events Will Determine Investor’s Fates

The fates of investors and traders alike depend on how four politically charged events play out over the next 12 months. James Shinn takes a look at how the interplay of US monetary policy, Chinese economic growth, the European debt crisis and Saudi oil prices are likely to determine the future of the global economy. http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=2855196&LS=EMS544288


Conversations in the Market

This week our question is for the Head of Electronic Trading at a recognized algorithmic trading firm.

Q: Where do you think trading execution is heading over the next five years?

A: The evolution and transformation of Wall Street trading desks over the next several years will continue to move further away from the traditional trading desks that we are all accustomed to. The “quant’ has taken us from a high touch sales trader environment to a low touch computer driven world in a very short period of time. Algorithms have reshaped how we trade and will continue to capture market share and dominate trading due to their ability to process large volumes of order flow in a very cost efficient manner. Continue reading »


The Wall Street Mind

The Post Crash: Wall Street Won. So why is it so worried?? http://nymag.com/news/business/wallstreet/