Headhunters are reporting a lackluster February, and some sources attribute this to a scarcity of new job openings in the ABS market.

The only bright spot appears to be in the hedge fund universe, where there is a healthy demand for people with CDO experience, sources said.

"January is always a slow month," said a source at a headhunting firm. "Usually things pick up in February. This February was awful. There are fewer jobs and the hiring that is going on is very selective, and it has become a drawn out, lengthy process."

A principal at another executive search firm called the current outlook "discouraging." "Hiring has been particularly quiet on the conduit side; there is not a lot going on in that area right now as opposed to this time last year," the source said. "The new regulations probably have something to do with it. A lot of people may be scared."

Another source said that last winter he had three big ABCP job orders, while currently he is showing nothing in that area. "I don't see any of the big players in the [ABCP] market right now," the headhunter said.

However, the regulatory environment is not the industry bugbear that some make it out to be, said one conduit banker. "The regulatory stuff has been going on for years. [The ABCP] market is simply a mature market, and there is not that much happening. Most shops are pretty well staffed up at this point," the banker said.

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