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Times are getting tougher for bankers, with jobs growth in the finance sector slumping 3.1% since May 2007, according to latest instalment of the monthly Olivier Job Index. Report author Bob Olivier says it's even worse in i-banking, where job ads are down 9.7% on an annualised basis.

"The transactions aren't happening like last year," explains Olivier. "IPO activity is also down."

Despite the dim jobs outlook for bankers, Greg Canavan, a senior equity analyst from independent stock market research house Fat Prophets, says the local banking sector isn't a basket case and that the environment is better than four years ago during the last i-bank downturn.

"However, if a few property developers fall over, some banks might be exposed and we'll see bad debts up as a result," cautions Canavan. "We expect to see a few more reporting seasons of bad debts for the banks and at worst they'll have to raise some equity to cover the write-downs."

A Sydney-based recruiter is also more upbeat about the job outlook for bankers and says the current labour market is much better than in the early 1990s. Luke Heath, owner of Chandler Heath Recruitment, says, "Our experience is that the demand for bankers is subdued compared to 12 months ago. Nonetheless, critical vacancies always need to be filled. Also management at most banks in the Asian region remain interested in adding proven revenue generators."

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