London’s big investment banks are dramatically stepping up their presence in the Middle East in an effort to seek new clients, increase deal flow and shift people out of shrinking businesses.
While the choices are rarely as stark as 'move to Dubai or be fired', big bank employees, from managing directors down to young analysts, are being encouraged to consider a stint in the Gulf or nearby countries.
Many are jumping at the chance. Some are simply excited about getting into an area where business is hot. Others are capitalising on family connections to the area, or language skills that give them an edge.
The phenomenon extends from the Square Mile across the Atlantic to the US. Julian Mylchreest, Citigroup’s head of investment banking for central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “If we had said three years ago, ‘we want to add five people in the Gulf’, we might have had a handful of decent candidates...Now there is a queue of some of our best people and, broadly, some of the local talent that has been in New York or London now wants to move home too. Bankers are now thinking, ‘If I move to the Gulf, I can see a seven-year career plan, good clients, great deal flow,’”