On top of the foreign transfers, banks are also hiring locally. In the last six months, Merrill Lynch recruited a team of bankers from Brazil for that office. JPMorgan Chase has hired in the Middle East and Asia.
Credit Suisse plans to double its investment banking and private banking staff in India over the next year and moved its global head of financial institutions to Hong Kong from New York this summer.
And the longer foreign markets outperform developed economies, managers say, the more permanent the shift in power may become.
“Pools of capital will move to where the industry sees an expansion of opportunities,” said Edith Cooper, head of human management at Goldman Sachs.
Ms. Cooper travels regularly to Goldman’s foreign offices, and she says the anxiety felt by international employees matches the fear in New York. But she says she reassures them that Goldman is committed to its global growth strategy. In the last few months, dozens of Goldman bankers have been offered the option to move abroad, under varying degrees of pressure.
Recent high-profile transfers at Goldman include Ravi Sinha, an investment banker who moved to Hong Kong from New York to become the co-head of investment banking for much of Asia; Alasdair Warren, a banker who moved to Dubai from London as the head of financing for the Middle East and Africa; and Valentino Carlotti, who moved to São Paulo from New York to become president of Goldman Sachs’s bank in Brazil.
“I don’t know whether it’s as much, ‘There’s not enough to do here, so we’ll go somewhere else,’ ” Ms. Cooper said. “Rather it’s more of a reflection of our clients and the growing businesses in China, India and Middle East.”
The shift is also changing the concept of being an expatriate employee from a temporary jaunt to one that might be more permanent, Ms. Cooper said.
Sheila Patel, Goldman’s head of equities for Southeast Asia, moved to Singapore from New York in May, even though her division was not stagnating.
“Is there a set time that I expect to be in Asia?” Ms. Patel said. “Not really. I could see spending my whole career here.”
Ms. Patel’s move around the world in a sense reverses a decision her father made in the 1960s to move from India to the United States, where he married an Irish-American.
“Every generation searches out its opportunity set and looks for growth,” Ms. Patel said. “Nobody thinks of somebody moving to New York as an expatriate. Somehow in other global cities, there’s been this concept.”