AIG restaffs forex post-merger

The bank has cherry-picked dealers and traders from top investment and wholesale banks to join its global team, which saw a slew of departures during the integration of AIG Trading into AIG Financial Products earlier this year.

John Wareham, former global head of forex at AIG Trading, and now head of foreign exchange at Banque AIG in London, said the bank had taken its time to find "mature, cross-product friendly, skilled, relationship-based people".

He told FX Week: "We’ve focused on bringing in mature people with very solid relationships with the ability and ambition to work in a cross-product environment."

While forex has grown in importance over the past two or three years, as more hedge funds and investors turn to the product, it is a crucial part of the bank’s strategy to market forex in tandem with other products – such as equity derivatives, commodities and commodity derivatives, fixed-income derivatives, commodity index products and a range of structured finance products.

"Foreign exchange is a hugely important asset class," said Wareham. "But it’s also the starting point to a broader relationship. Whether our clients are hedge funds, commodity trading advisers, sovereigns, corporates or real-money clients, the ethos is that all clients are offered a broad range of products." Many of AIG’s high-end clients found it difficult to navigate through the silo-based approaches of bigger organisations, he said.

Three of the new starters join in London. Pei Boon Koh, who starts on July 12 in sales and marketing, was previously in institutional forex sales at Goldman Sachs in London. Spencer Schubert joins from TD Securities in trading later in July, while Stephen Gilmore will join at the same time as an emerging markets strategist. Gilmore is currently in Hong Kong, having recently left Morgan Stanley in that city.

Two more new appointees are in the bank’s US headquarters in Wilton, Connecticut. They are: Tom Kushner in sales and marketing to real money clients, and Chris Slusher for sales and marketing to corporates. Kushner joined on July 1 from UBS, where he was a senior institutional forex sales dealer in Connecticut. Slusher was previously at FleetBoston Financial in Boston and joined AIG in May.

The remaining addition is in Tokyo, where Wareham sees opportunities for further growth. "There are lots of indications that foreign exchange is becoming an interesting asset class in Japan after being quiet for a while. Servicing and marketing to Japan from afar is extremely difficult", he noted.

Andrew Colom joined in sales and marketing in Tokyo on June 28. He comes from Barclays Capital.

Wareham plans to make two or three more appointments to complete the global team.

AIG completed the merger of AIG Trading and AIG Financial Products’ teams on March 1. Reports from US recruitment consultants suggested up to 70 jobs were cut ahead of the integration (FX Week, December 1, 2003). More staff left over uncertainty surrounding the process, although Wareham said AIG Financial Products’ chief in London Joe Cassano had "always been clear about his commitment to the FX business". The integration of foreign exchange has subsequently proceeded "very well", added Wareham.

Wareham has worked at AIG since October 2001, when he left his chief operating officer role at former multi-bank portal Atriax. He has also previously managed global forex at Merrill Lynch, which he left for Atriax in May 2001.

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