What happened to all the securitization bankers?

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There is drama galore in the murky world of securitization, but for bankers' jobs the outlook seems decidedly tragic.

It remains to be seen whether the recent decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to buy AU$780m of mortgage-backed bonds will help to kick-start the market, says one leading economist, who asked not to be named.

In the short-term at least, this isn't exactly sweet music for securitization specialists, especially in the wake of Société Générale's decision earlier this year to quit Sydney - decimating its securitization team in the process. Luke Heath, chief executive of Chandler Heath Executive Recruitment, says CVs from securitization bankers are flooding into his firm.

Heath says alternative career options for panicky bankers in the sector depend directly on their skills set: "It's a difficult time for them, but they could opt for senior relationship banking or project restructuring of other debt products."

For the moment, however, securitization redundancies are more possible than real, says Patrick Everest, a partner at Jon Michel Executive Search. "We haven't yet seen any real evidence of firings. Many teams are managing their existing positions and ultimately the banks are in the business for the long term."

Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors, says the RBA's move is not a bail-out because it is swapping bonds for cash. "At the end of the term, the bonds will be returned to the counterparty," he adds.

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