Australian bankers spared redundancy

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Wholesale redundancies don't seem to be on the agenda right now for Australia's major and regional trading banks, or for most of the investment banks.

That's the word from senior recruiters, although the marketplace is still full of downsizing rumours, including one that Bank of America will scale back from a trading bank to a branch office, and that Citigroup will slice into its local headcount.

Edmund Gill, director of Hays Banking, says large-scale job cuts aren't taking place at this point, but notes that areas such as mortgage operations and back-office processing have come off the boil and there has been some rationalization in those areas.

"What we've actually found is that there is still a lot of work," Gill says. "There is still strong demand for front-line roles, business developers, commercial lending, institutional and international banking work. There is still a belief that the market will bounce back and that the business has to be driven accordingly."

His views match those of National Australia Bank CEO John Stewart, who says the Australian market is still well positioned despite the global financial turmoil.

"I am pleased to say Australia is in a much better position because although we have the same problems in the debt markets we still have a strong economy," he told The Age last week. "It is pretty well business as usual for us."

Carmichael Fisher senior consultant Oliver Darkes says there have been some redundancies at banks exposed to the US, but it has been "a clearing of the decks", to move on weaker performers post bonus time.

"There hasn't been a huge raft of retrenchments here," Darkes says. "The banks are still hiring in certain areas ... there's just not as much activity as before."

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