Wall Street crisis hasn't hit hiring at Aussie retail banks

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Despite the dramatic upheavals in US investment banks, at Australia's retail banks it's steady as she goes. Hiring activity has calmed a little but that goes back several months so isn't because of the US disintegration, says Edmund Gill at recruiter Hays.

"Any hiring slowdown really began in July. Liquidity is tight, so there's been an awful lot of prudence in the past three to six months. Banks are not speculating on staff. If they have a need, they'll hire," adds Gill.

CBA spokeman Steve Batten comments: "It's business as usual and certainly there is no hiring freeze. We're always keen to attract and retain good talent."

But equally, retail banks are not picking up unemployed investment bankers. "I'm not aware of any drive to pick up such people," adds Batten.

Gill agrees: "I haven't seen any retail banks picking up investment bankers - there haven't really been layoffs here."

Westpac and St George are already exercising hiring restraint because of their projected merger. Meanwhile, ANZ's plans to shed "several hundred" management jobs is the result of its restructuring announced earlier this month. The US financial crisis did not affect ANZ's intentions, according to a spokeswoman for the bank.

NAB has quietly gone on hiring, with new chief executive Cameron Clyne's appointment bringing a bit of rearrangement and hiring activity.

The main change in the Australian market, says Tim Haren at recruiter Jon Michel, is that both candidates and banks are more risk averse.

Haren explains: "Candidates particularly are more wary of taking roles that involve any variable aspects to them achieving their objectives. Generally, the domestic banks are still pushing on with hiring and this can be attributed to the establishment of several new lines of business within the retail banks, restructures, and the general activity that comes with the appointment of two relatively new CEOs. It's definitely not all doom and gloom."

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