Cantor Fizgerald, a private partnership, may be one of the smallest of the Federal Reserve’s primary dealer firms, but it certainly has big plans.

Specifically, the firm is looking to hire as many as 100 professionals for its fixed-income business alone this year. That is on top of 20 specialists hired earlier in the year for a nascent high-yield bond effort and roughly 100 professionals brought on last year.

“The talent pool out there is very deep right now and the opportunity to grow has never been better,” Shawn Matthews, chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald.

Matthews was named CEO earlier this week. The role has him responsible for the firm’s debt capital markets, investment banking and equity capital markets businesses.

In addition to adding to its fixed-income business, Cantor has plans to bring on more investment bankers. Also, “We are looking for opportunities to grow the equity business,” Matthews said.
Within the equity business, Cantor is looking for professionals specializing in sales and trading. As Matthews said, “We are looking for seasoned people.”

When it comes to investment banking Matthews said his firm wants to hire “exceptional players in numerous areas” to buttress its debt and equity underwriting.

Also, the company wants to expand into restructuring and FIG. “We are hiring pods of specialists, depending on what area makes sense. This our opportunity to get more relevant,” Mathews said.

The hires come at time when many Wall Street firms have dramatically cut back their staffing. Massive losses have prompted large firms to cut costs and some markets such as commercial real estate finance have been locked up in the credit freeze. At the same time, many firms are reluctant to make markets and this has made it tough for investors to readily buy and sell securities such as non-conforming mortgage bonds and certain asset-backed securities.
Matthews said Cantor has, in part, been prompted to expand its numbers and its presence in fixed income as a result of requests from investors. “Customers are asking us to build up the business,” he said.

Last year, Cantor hired some 100 professionals for its sales and trading group. Most were in fixed income.

Early this year, Cantor hired 20 to build its presence in high yield, distressed debt and bank debt. When it comes to expanding its presence in fixed income Matthews says “we’re are agreesively going to grow in Europe and Asia” as well as the U.S.

Currently, the firm has roughly 250 people working within its fixed income group.

The entire firm employs 1,000 professionals. When it comes to investment banking, there could be as many as 25 hires made in 2009.

Matthews says his firm has received resumes from not only laid-off professionals, but dealmakers who are employed at competing firms.

“Cantor is uniquely positioned. People want to come on to a growing platform where the business is growing,” Matthews said. “It is an opportunity to hire quality people. It's our biggest priority right now. We’re trying to hire great people."

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