New figures from IMAS, the information provider which helpfully monitors the number of FSA approved people working for financial services firms in London, show that there were big disparities in the percentages of City staff banks made redundant last year. Some made big cuts, others merely trimmed lightly.
Among the safest banks to work for in 2012 were Barclays Capital, Jefferies and JPMorgan. Barclays Capital Securities (now officially known as Barclays Investment Bank) cut only 2% of its FSA approved staff in the City. Jefferies cut only 0.3%. And JPMorgan Securities cut only 4.1%.
By comparison, Morgan Stanley - which has another round of job cuts coming up, shaved 11% of its approved persons in 2012. Credit Suisse Securities, which is also at risk of making additional redundancies - particularly in its fixed income currencies and commodities (FICC) business, cut nearly 15%. Nomura cut 11%, Investec Bank cut 16%. But the biggest cuts came at Royal Bank of Scotland NV - effectively the old ABN AMRO element of RBS, where approved persons were hammered down by 45% in 2012.
Very few firms ended 2012 with more FSA approved staff than they started with, but there were some exceptions. Canaccord Genuity's headcount rose 33%, although this was due mostly to the acquisition of Collins Stewart and reclassification of some staff previously working for Canaccord Genuity Hawkpoint. St. James' Place, the financial advisory firm known for hiring ex-bankers as financial advisers, also increased its net headcount by 16%.
The good news is that there are indications that some firms were hiring opportunistically in December and are continuing to do so in the New Year. BNP Paribas added 25 new FSA approved employees in December and has registered two new people so far in January. They are James Stirling, a former managing director at RBS and Adrian Averre, BNP's former head of fixed income in Japan, who is now registered in London.
The bad news is that simply because banks proved safe employers last year, it doesn't mean that they will prove safe employers in 2013. Barclays in particular is expected to make some far more significant redundancies at its investment bank after its new strategy is announced in February.