Interview: Options Group CEO Sees Opportunity on Wall Street

June 26, 2009 – Michael Karp is chief executive and one of the founding partners of Options Group, a New York-based financial services and information technology executive recruiting firm. Mr. Karp has broad expertise in all areas of the global financial markets business, including sales and trading, structured finance, principal investment, research and technology. He is regularly quoted in such media publications as The Wall Street Journal, Euromoney and Bloomberg. With the global financial sector in turmoil we asked Mr. Karp to discuss the current state of Wall Street recruiting, where he sees risk as well as opportunity.

What's happening in Wall Street financial recruiting?

It's been an interesting year in that recruiting was very slow in the first quarter, but incredibly fast over the last six to eight weeks. We are very busy on both the sell- and buy-side and Wall Street firms are looking to hire across the board.

Has the decline in financial services been as bad as it was after 9/11?

The decline has been going for almost two years and it has been very bad, especially on the job loss front. Over 275,000 professionals have lost their jobs globally since June 2007. I think it's been longer-lasting than the after 9/11 and much more global this time around.

Will we see a full rebound or a partial rebound due to the severity of the decline in this sector?

I think we are in the midst of a full rebound that will be gradual, but the rebound will not hit many other parts of the world until 2010.

What sectors within financial services are up/down?

Commodities/credit/FX/rates/corporate bond sales and trading are all up; while leveraged finance, securitized products, and private equity remain down.

Are there concerns about foreign financial services companies taking over Wall Street? Or is this seen as an opportunity for executive search?

This is a global market so I don’t think domestic firms look at it that way anymore. If a financial firm poaches a talented professional, they don’t care as much where he or she is going. It is an opportunity for executive search firms with a global platform to establish relationships with European and Asian-based financial firms that are seeking additional marketshare in the United States.

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