Is cost cutting contagious?

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Reports that CBA is planning a 5% cost reduction have sparked redundancy rumours, and mean that three of Australia's four main retail banks are in or verging on cost cutting mood.

ANZ has plans to reduce management-level jobs, with at least 500 positions said to be at risk. And Westpac, which cut 450 head-office roles last year, is in limbo until shareholders vote on the St George takeover proposal in November. NAB alone has not announced cuts or freezes, and reiterates that it won't.

What does this mean for the recruitment market in the finance sector?

Recruiters agree that the situation, while flat, is not grim. Tim Harran, consultant at Jon Michel Executive Search, says although hiring is down, the market is still not awash with candidates from the Big 4.

Chris Mamas, consultant at Select Personnel, agrees: "There has not been a flood. Generally, candidates are given long lead times, enabling them to find new positions. It's nothing like 2000-01," he says. "It'll only take a small uptick and they'll all be hiring again," he adds.

According to Jason Bohringer at Robert Walters, the banks are still hiring for essential roles, although there have been headcount freezes.

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