Local knowledge key for ambitious fixed income professionals

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There are signs a talent shortage is emerging for experienced Nordic FX and fixed income professionals, with a good knowledge of local or regional markets at a premium.

Swedbank last month said it was hiring a new five-strong FX and fixed income team to operate out of Helsinki from September, serving the large corporates and institutions market.

Its move follows Deutsche Bank's announcement in April that it was creating a satellite FX sales team in Stockholm.

According to Tomas Hedberg, head of FX and FI trading at Swedbank, the new Finnish team will increase the bank's penetration of the institutions and large corporates market in Finland, an area where up to now it has been "fairly weak".

Finland's membership of the eurozone makes it an attractive proposition when it comes to the burgeoning credit risk market and it is a country growing in importance financially within the region.

"Of course it is possible to run something like this from Sweden, but what is being increasingly recognised is the importance of having local teams on the ground," Hedberg explains.

"Finland has a lot of potential and many banks, regional and international, are looking to increase their penetration there. But there are not that many local teams, so there is demand for more regional players," he adds.

The creation of the new office also has to been seen against the backdrop of strengthening demand for FX and fixed income professionals across the region, particularly in hubs such as Stockholm and Oslo.

"We are definitely seeing demand increasing for FX and FI specialists, especially at relatively senior levels, such as vice-president and above. There is a lot of activity and a lot of focus, with some foreign banks also looking to expand into the Nordic market," says Hedberg.

While this is not, as yet, creating a talent crunch, anyone with a combination of good technical and product knowledge as well as excellent on-the-ground contacts or experience could potentially be in a strong bargaining position.

"Where there is sometimes a shortage is not so much of competencies but of local knowledge. Banks are trying to find people with good local knowledge of the Swedish and Norwegian markets," suggests Hedberg.

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