Do ABN AMRO bankers deserve to get dumped?

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ABN's bankers are coming off worse in the integration process with RBS.

Financial News reports that Royal Bank of Scotland has begun eliminating staff as part of the integration process with ABN AMRO.

Following 'day long interviews' and 'IQ tests' to weed out the weakest links in cases where ABN and RBS staff are duplicating their efforts, Financial News reports that (surprise, surprise) ABN staff have come off worse - more than three quarters of senior posts at the combined banks are being assigned to bankers from RBS.

Is this fair? No, but then RBS has no need of such niceties. "This is a takeover, rather than a merger of equals," says the head of one search firm. "There's bound to be a political bias towards the acquirer, and businesses at RBS have generally been more profit generating."

So far, only senior staff at both banks have been put on the spot, with board-level employees scrutinised first, followed by global and regional heads.

Further down the hierarchy, Financial News predicts there will be two people battling over each role, which could yet see IQ testing turn nasty. Our own ABN source says this is an exaggeration: "My feeling is it won't be that bad, and that RBS will be fair."

According to ABN insiders, fears over RBS's nastiness can be assuaged simply by reading a Harvard Business Review study which celebrates the Scottish conquerors as 'Masters of Integration'. When RBS acquired NatWest in 2003 it slashed tens of thousands of staff, but managed to keep everyone (who remained) happy - those who weren't severed ended up feeling more satisfied and secure than before.

Who's most likely to get cut this time? Headhunters point to overlaps in leveraged finance, securitisation, derivatives and principal risk taking. ABN bankers in emerging markets and Asia are likely to be relatively secure.

Surviving the killer IQ test

What should ABN bankers faced with terminal IQ tests do?

Linda Jackson of Fairplace, an organisation that runs such tests, says they're less likely to be an assessment of straight intelligence than a form of 'competency profiling' which matches individuals to the skills required for a job.

This is nothing to be scared of, she reassures: "These tests can be used to highlight skills that can be redeployed elsewhere in an organisation."

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