The Insider: The whips are coming out

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Times are tough, but they are going to get tougher, particularly for junior staff, says Hugh Karseras, author and senior banker.

In case you hadn't noticed, there has been a torrent of bad news in recent months. Banks' bonus pools are down and hiring plans for the next year across the Street are being reined in.

One consolation is that it does not, for now, look like we are going to see the kind of across-the-board cuts that we saw in 2001-02. What this means for juniors, in particular, is that you are still relatively safe in your jobs. The question though is: will you be able to handle the pain?

When markets are tough, it is harder to generate revenue. Senior bankers live off their P&L and the pressure for them to find and win mandates and keep their clients happy is enormous: if they don't get the mandates, or if they mess them up, they are gone along with their once big bonuses.

If you're a junior, this is bad news. Think you worked hard in 2007? Wait until 2008 gets under way. If senior bankers break out into a canter in an effort to secure revenues, juniors will be whipped into a gallop. Expect more pitches, tighter deadlines, greater scrutiny on quality and process, more temper tantrums over typos and even less hesitation to call you first thing on a Sunday morning to get your hung-over (if you managed to make it out the night before) body back into the office.

To make matters worse, lower hiring rates mean less new blood to pick up the strain - you can expect to carry more of the load until the markets improve.

What can you do? There is no magic bullet - just more of the same, but the game just got tougher.

The old rules apply: you need to get your work done, on time and well, with no excuses, just a broad smile showing that you are loving life, even if you are not. Try and find your air cover, your jungle guide, or your mentor to take you under their wing and provide some protection from the predatory horde of senior bankers.

The silver lining is that if you make it through this cycle, you will truly have earned your spurs, and the credibility that comes with that is invaluable.

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