Which jobs will be safest in a downturn?

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With banks only recently dishing out big bonuses, the next downturn may be the last thing on your mind. But is this really wise?

It wasn't that long ago that economists were predicting there would be a slip in 2007, and some bankers may be wondering how long the good times will last.

The word from recruiters is that if you're on the debt side of the employment ledger, assessing credit and managing risk, you're likely to be a lot safer than your equity peers when the next downturn arrives.

"When things are great, everyone is right on the equity side, doing deals, investing, undertaking listings and getting involved in all the things related to growth strategies," says Elizabeth Roberts, associate director for Michael Page's banking and financial services division.

"On the flipside, in a downturn the areas that remain strong are linked to credit because everybody wants to know what their credit portfolio is like. It's people like credit analysts and people working on the debt side that would be safest. Brokers and dealers would not hold firm. If there's no deals to be done and things are tough, they'll go with the downturn."

Roberts says other safe areas are legal and compliance, audit and taxation, finance and technology infrastructure, as opposed to people in technology investment.

Rick Jansz, managing consultant IT and financial markets for BSI People, agrees that employees involved in risk management play a key role in the down times.

"Little by little there's been a steady growth in the whole credit risk area, and they're the people that are probably hardest to find, so they won't be hit as hard."