Merrill Lynch continues FX drive with key hires

In New York, senior interest rate trader David Hoffman joined two weeks ago from Deutsche Bank, where he headed FX forwards. And Robert Bogucki started at the bank’s New York centre on Monday as an FX options trader, joining Merrill from Morgan Stanley, where he held a similar role.

William Shek, meanwhile, joined the bank's Tokyo office as a managing director overseeing local currency trading in Asia. Shek was previously head of FX for Asia at rival investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Merrill is one of the few global institutions currently expanding its wholesale foreign exchange business. The process started in November last year when the bank hired former Deutsche Bank forex chief Michael deSa as global head of FX.

Cinta del Monaco-Kemp, deputy head of global FX at Merrill in New York, said: "Merrill Lynch is investing in FX like it has never done before - it is ready to take its FX business to the next level."

She added that the nature of FX trading has changed since the euro replaced 11 legacy currencies, electronic trading systems made spot FX trading less lucrative, and banks have started to look for new ways to generate revenue. "FX became too commoditised, but many banks are realising they have the ability to make money if they create new products."

Merrill plans to hire four additional senior foreign exchange managers by mid-2002, and will also make other hires in FX trading and sales, particularly to its FX options and interest rate derivatives businesses, said del Monaco-Kemp.

These hires will replace a dwindling supply of forex staff at Merrill, which has lost at least nine managers and dealers from London and New York during the past few months. Earlier this month, London-based head of FX sales Graham Edwards and sales dealers Quentin Smith, Graham Wintersgill and Ben Hildyard all left the bank. The latter three are expected to resurface at AIG Trading’s forex group in London, which is managed by ex-Merrill man John Wareham, though a spokesperson for AIG Trading in New York declined to comment.

In January, Merrill lost its head of FX trading for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Harry Culham, while in December, FX sales dealers Tracey Duggan, Martin Mohr, Lauren Bopf and Bernadette Hamill all left the bank.

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