Forex brokers in Cyprus are considering employing staff currently engaged in the banking sector, as the threat of job cuts looms at the two biggest banks on the island.
The number of likely redundancies at the now-defunct Laiki Bank runs into the hundreds, and a number of employees at 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.
Many employees are being targeted by forex platforms and have approached recruiters to consider their options.
“Compliance staff from banks will translate into the same world that we’re in,” said Oren Laurent, chief executive of Cyprus-based binary options company Banc De Binary.
Mr Laurent said he is seeking to hire between 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 Cypriot broker Forex Time said the crisis “presented an opportunity to grab the talent that previously was not available”.
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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.”
The forex sector has experienced rapid growth 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.”
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.