If you're looking for an M&A job in the U.S., the Republican's recent tax bill could provide just the fillip you need. U.S. corporations are going to be getting a huge windfall – Warren Buffett says Berkshire Hathaway will reap $29m from it this year alone - and some of this is likely to be spent on mergers and acquisitions.
BofA CFO Paul Donofrio said as much in the bank's recent investor call. "We are very optimistic about 2018 given the Tax Act," said Donofrio. "...we think companies are going to be interested in more M&A transactions and ultimately are going to be investing in raising capital." U.S. M&A increased 3% last year according to Dealogic. This year, the implication is that it could rise further still.
Wall Street recruiters say demand for M&A bankers is robust as a result. “Banks are hiring to make sure they have the bandwidth to handle increased M&A activity,” says Brianne Toole, a vice president and head of west coast at Selby Jennings.
“Once [the tax bill] was official, we saw banks move forward with hiring, starting new searches,” agrees Mike Brothers, manager of financial services at Michael Page.
Associate to senior associate levels are still where banks’ hiring has been the most active, according to Toole, although certainly some banks looking for directors and above, and small M&A advisory shops are always looking for their next rainmaker.
Toole says there is a lot of hiring in New York for banks’ Financial Institutions Group (FIG), whereas on the west coast most of the M&A advisory hiring is focused on candidates with technology sector experience. She says there has also been hiring in the real estate and healthcare sectors on both coasts. In addition, there is currently a big consumer push and a decent technology push in Chicago.
It’s not just bulge-brackets that are recruiting. Nomura is still building its U.S. M&A business. UBS says it wants to focus on the Americas this year (and China). Recruiters say too that many of the elite boutiques and middle-market banks such as Piper Jaffray, Houlihan Lokey, Harris Williams and Jefferies are doing a lot of M&A advisory hiring, as are Canadian, Japanese and European banks as they try to compete with the major U.S. firms.
Brothers says there's more demand for bankers to cover mid-market clients as banks like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs focus on this market. In general, recruiters say banks are looking for "cross-industry" specialists who can work on areas like consumer technology and consumption goods in general. By comparison, demand for broad M&A generalists is falling.
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