April 17, 2013 8:47 pm

Forex brokers look to hire Cyprus bankers

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A woman walking past a branch of the Bank of Cyprus branch in Nicosia, Cyprus 27 March 2013 as the country's banks remain closed. Cyprus banks will are expected to open early 28 March. Temporary measures will be placed on transactions when they do re-open despite the EU/IMF bailout deal which will see larger depositors lose money.©EPA

A woman walks past a Nicosia branch of Bank of Cyprus

Foreign exchange brokers in Cyprus have set their sights on snapping up banking staff, as the threat of thousands of job cuts looms at the two biggest banks on the crisis-hit island.

At least several hundred staff at Laiki Bank – which is being split up and wound down – and the Bank of Cyprus, which is set to be restructured, are expected to lose their jobs as part of the recently agreed €10bn rescue package.

In depth

Cyprus bailout

International lenders have agreed a €10bn rescue of the debt-laden island contingent on the raising of €5.8bn from a Cypriot bank deposit levy

Many employees are being targeted by forex platforms and have approached recruiters to consider their options.

“Compliance [banking staff] will translate into the same world that we’re in,” said Oren Laurent, chief executive of Banc De Binary, a Cyprus-based company that allows investors to bet on whether the price of assets such as a share, commodity or index will increase or decrease.

Mr Laurent said he is seeking to hire about 300 to 400 Laiki staff, but said the employees are waiting to find out whether or not they still have a job at the bank. “Everybody is waiting to find out their fate. These people have pension funds,” he said.

Andrey Dashin, owner of Forex Time – a Cyprus-based online forex broker – said the crisis “presented an opportunity to grab the talent that previously was not available”.

Some staff at the banks have also approached recruiters about their prospects. Global Recruitment Solutions (GRS), a Cyprus-based recruiter that also helps run a training course for people hoping to enter the forex sector, said dozens of Laiki staff have expressed interest in the course since plans to shake up the banking sector were announced.

“They’re just fact-finding now,” said Donna Stephenson, co-founder of GRS. “The Laiki employees are obviously looking and thinking about what is the next thing for them in their career.”

Forex broking is a fast-growing sector in Cyprus, and one in three of the recruiter’s placements last year was for forex companies. “You’ve got a booming forex sector that is recruiting . . . and you have a potentially high unemployment rate because of these banking employees.”

Compliance [banking staff] will translate into the same world that we’re in

- Oren Laurent, Banc De Binary chief

Ms Stephenson said forex companies based in Cyprus but with global customers were particularly keen to recruit young banking staff who were educated abroad and speak English.

One senior banking official in Cyprus said the job cuts would probably be split equally between Laiki and the Bank of Cyprus. “Each bank has about 2,500 staff. It would be a kind of a reasonable expectation that at some stage there would be a need to cut down by at least 1,500,” he added.

However, he said forex trading companies were a “different animal” to retail banks and that many banking staff would not be suited to work in the sector.

He said staff at the two banks could also be re-absorbed into the rest of the Cypriot banking sector, or would look for opportunities abroad.

Ms Stephenson said some banking staff had also asked the recruiter to look for roles abroad, including in the UK. “There is sentiment there that people are actually ready to leave [the country],” she said.

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