Private-equity firms are on a financial sector hiring spree.

In the last week alone two hard-hitting firms have picked up former bank and insurance executives. The latest is Cerberus Capital Management, which hired Al de Molina just six months after he left his post as

Bank of America's

(BAC) - Get Report

CFO, according to reports.

Molina, a 17-year veteran of the Charlotte, N.C., lender, will help oversee Cerberus' holdings in the sector, according to

The Wall Street Journal

. A spokesman for Cerberus did not return a call for comment.

Last week, the Carlyle Group hired Ned Kelly, the former CEO of Mercantile Bankshares, along with David Zwiener, former president and COO of

Hartford Financial Services

(HIG) - Get Report

, to head up its newly created financial institutions group. The unit will make investments in the banking and insurance space.

Mercantile, of Baltimore, was acquired by

PNC Financial Services

(PNC) - Get Report

this spring.

The hires demonstrate how private-equity firms are turning to nontraditional sectors to do deals as they sit awash in capital from institutional investors that needs to be put to work. The firms are looking for experienced talent to sniff out potential LBO targets.

"The industry as a whole is becoming a lot more creative, and they are finding new ways to see value and create value in different industries because of the competition for deals," says Robert Kennedy, a private-equity and M&A attorney at Jones Day in New York.

Want more? Check out TV video.Laurie Kulikowski takes a look at other names affected by this issue.

This year, leveraged buyouts in the financial sector across the world have topped $70 billion, according to Dealogic.

"The global growth in demand for financial products and services combined with our ability to attract accomplished professionals makes this an opportune time to start this new investment practice," said David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of Carlyle, in a press release last week.

While big-name players in the financial industry can give private-equity firms hands-on experience of working for a company in the sector, the executives may covet a shot at running a portfolio company.

"This is something you're seeing more and more of," says Carter Burgess, a managing director at executive search and corporate governance recruiting firm RSR Partners in Greenwich, Conn.

The executives can "sit on the board of portfolio companies, act as adviser, get the lay of the land, and then when they go public -- maybe head them up," Burgess says. "Private-equity firms are appealing to executives like Molina by saying, 'Come on over here and live the dream with us.'"

BofA had said when Molina stepped down that he was interested in pursuing other business opportunities, which included possibly running his own company or a position once again in the capital markets business.

Cerberus was one of the first private-equity firms to dabble in the financial services sector. Last year, Cerberus, along with


(C) - Get Report

and Aozora Bank, paid $14 billion for a majority stake in GMAC Financial Services from

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report


GMAC provides auto financing, commercial finance, insurance and mortgage products, banking and real estate services.

Private equity has been pushing hard into the financial sector. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts agreed to buy

First Data

(FDC) - Get Report

for $29 billion in early April. Just two weeks later, an investor group led by J.C. Flowers agreed to pay $60 a share, or $25 billion, for

Sallie Mae

(SLM) - Get Report


According to Thomson Financial, private-equity takeouts topped more than $333 billion as of the end of May. At this pace, the deal flow will soon pass last year's total of $442 billion. Nearly one-third of the deal flow was in the month of May alone, the data provider said.

"The fund raising has been so strong," says Rich Peterson, the director of capital markets at Thomson. "It makes many companies possibly susceptible to deals because there is so much activity. The net is being cast wide."