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Blood on the floor at Merrill

We were told by several people that Merrill chopped bankers in London yesterday. Things have apparently been particularly nasty in fixed income sales, with 35 out of around 150 salespeople in the City allegedly asked to leave.

Equity sales and trading, private banking, and fixed income sales in Germany are also said to have been affected.

The redundancies follow apparent assurances by John Thain on Monday that although thousands of redundancies were imminent, they’d be mostly in the middle office. These assurances were followed (correctly it now appears) by claims from informed sources that fixed income would definitely be in the firing line.

One fixed income headhunter says the cuts have largely impacted structuring and sales, with trading unaffected. This may not remain the case. “For the moment, they need the traders to hold the positions. When the positions have been closed they’ll be stuffed,” he says.

According to US banking analyst Dick Bove, Merrill’s most recent cuts could be the tip of the iceberg: he’s predicting that 10,000 jobs at the bank will go during the integration with Bank of America.

Comments (22)

  1. “The redundancies follow yesterday’s apparent assurances by John Thain that although thousands of redundancies were imminent, they’d be mostly in the middle office”

    Interesting how there is only “blood on the floor” when front office staff are axed……middle office people are like water huh?

  2. Hi Daddy,

    Sorry – that wasn’t the implication. Apologies to any offended people in the middle office.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  3. Daddy, I hope you’re not suggesting that middle office redundancies are anywhere near as significant/important as front office ones. The additional lifestyle cost and perfectionism of many front-office bankers means a redundancy could destroy them.

  4. Sad development this. Excessive culling hurts the industry’s prospects London needs reasons to retain talent, banks should be prudent with future talent. Year end actions should be moderated – just removing people solves no problems Extra resources will be needed very soon. Not the smartest way at all No public sector organization culls people Is industry structure worsening ? Net result – a weaker economy Government – a mute spectator Seek a message here

  5. yes, it is pretty bad these days, reminds me of 2001.. but you gotta do it 4th quarter to take the big cost hits in the old year. It just surprises WHY it took them so long to take action.. there is northing going on in the city in terms of big tickets (the ones you need to make trhe numbers)

    however, if you make it through the 4Q rounds there is a good change that was it for the banks.. What is not so knows is that the hedge fund guys get just hammered.. all that crap on their books and they did not tell anybody.

    at least we see light at the end here.. expect for the US of course.. they are just f… all you can do their is buy flats for next to nothing..

    hanging_in_there Reply
  6. Next steps – As you approach recruiters to search for new roles, there are some firms that require a disclosure of other interviews. This is an avoidable practice. Good note Ace. Sums it up.

  7. Dude – like any sales person, the recruiters job is to seek opportunities and leads. But to do it in the way you describe shows poor judgment and poor ethics

  8. There is one recruiter that accepts resumes, requires disclosures of other interviews via an email autoreply, calls repeatedly to enquire about other interviews, posts potential / non-existent roles on job websites – all of which are unethical. Cannot name this agency on this forum for fear of libel. However, several clues were dropped in CDO Joe’s column this week.

  9. eFinancialCareers is widely viewed. This forum should have the courage to allow viewers to name recruiters who act unethically – such as attempted violations of confidentiality.

    One agency automates replies to candidates with text such as this :

    “Thank you for your application. With regards to your job search so far, are there any institutions you have already spoken to/interviewed with, as we do not want to duplicate any applications made”

    This is quite not cricket.

  10. Dude, but as we’ve seen, we’ve had those hints removed.

    No experienced guy would give the info out but If any relatively new people to the City are reading – the moment you get a request to tell everything about your interview history – immediately break off contact or feed junk information.

  11. duncan – what are you saying here? That people working in middle office can’t have their lives destroyed by a redundancy? That middle office people don’t strive for perfection in their job?
    You seem to fit the arrogant stereotype of a banker that the world’s despises these days.

  12. Is it time to stop working for the arrogant banks, hedge funds etc. ?

  13. dave – these places will still pay higher than anywhere else, base alone

  14. Yet again another efinancial debate turns into a recruitment bashing exercise – no doubt by frustrated job applicants with too much time on their hands. What about the countelss unemplyed people who are getting placed by recruiters at the moment?

    Get a grip you people. Leave the negativitiy at home if you want to find a job.

    There are several reasons that a recruiter will ask where else you are interviewing. Not all of them to get leads.

    One is perhaps to get a handle of what type of company you actually do want to meet (considering that you were so coy when I asked you during our interview three months ago when you were in being too fussy).

    Had it occured also to any of your readers that If I am pitching their cv to a perspective client / employer it may help me convince the perspective employer / client to meet if he understands that his competitor company has already met and progressed the inidividual through a process ?

    Oh and yes if you have been interviewed and you were a “no” or you’ve not heard back for for a while – tell me who you met and I might be able to through some light onto where you might have gone wrong .

    Just a recruiter Reply
  15. We’re not “bashing” recruitment, we’re just bashing one single recuritment firm. Of course HHs are important at this time, but certain firm(s) use dodgey tactics.
    (1) a proper HH doesn’t need to ask these questions after an interview + receiving cv from client – they will have enough experience him/herself to tell which firms are appropriate. In an case – it’s us the candidates who are looking for you to give us some advice on this…….. “what type of company?” we have no choice in these times.
    (2) During these times – no firm is willing to go into open competition for a candidate. This reason may have worked in economic conditions last 2 years but not now. Besides the firm(s) in question was not asking these questions a year ago
    (3) Extrmely bad form to get another HH to help you out on an ongoing process started by another HH. Decent HHs never step on each other’s territory like that

  16. Just a recruiter –

    You seem to be a rare breed of recruiter, one with some real class and care for his client to say such things. Most of the ones I met are real cowboys who hustle like a street pimp just to stay alive.

  17. BC you seem to be missing the point on various levels.

    Firstly, you are NOT a client. You are are a Candidate. A client is someone who who pays the bill and offers you a job. You are paying me – the recruitment consultant – nothing.

    Secondly – when I pitch your cv to a client (someone who is going to pay me and possibly give you a job) – I need to convince the client that you are worth meeting. If I can tell the client that you are interviewing with a company that he respects, then this may help me convince him to meet you.

    Thirdly , I’m sure you are qualified to judge what is and isnt bad form. You appear to be completely unaware of what is actually going on when you meet a recrtuier. Rememeber the recrtuiment consultant is also making decisions as to whether you are one of the candidates he wants to submit to his client.

    Just a recruiter Reply
  18. J.a.R, As a candidate, I am not desperate to spread my CV all over town. I want to build trust with a recruiter that represents me. Should the good intentions that you mentioned earlier be outlined by the ( & by just the one firm that we were talking about ) HH firm, then such trust is built. The intent however, is seemingly to ferret out client names to source business from – and that deters my gameplan as a candidate.

  19. “Just a recruiter” – you are just a middleman: no candidates = nothing to show to the Client = no money. If no candidates ever want to do business with you again, how do you make money? we can go straight to the desks at other banks ourselves and increasingly this is happening.
    Look – the specific HH firm we talk about asks us who we have been interviewing with, the exact desks we are talking to, the names of people…. hell even the questions we get asked. I ask “why do you want to know”? The last time the answer was: “errrrr because we want to make sure we do not talk to people you have met already”. me: “so who are you talking to?” “errrr so who have you been talking to?” Desperation. No quality HH would dare to ask these questions.
    Been around for 10 years – know how most HHs operate – don’t tell me that i am not aware of what is actually going on. We also make a judegment on whether you guys are worth using. Like Ace says – trust needs to be built – if you think after one meeting that’s the case and we give you permission to go off “pitching” us then you are seriously mistaken

  20. Could I hear from front office people which recruiting firms have demonstrated trustworthiness and ability to represent candidates appropriately?

    still employed Reply
  21. Sadly we can’t name-and-fame (or) name-and-shame HH firms here.

    Some smaller agencies are usually more focussed & discrete for front office roles. Larger firms have some great consultants, but may not always respond to every enquiry. Look for agencies that provide consultant names, contact details & explain practice areas, consultants who receive calls & call-back to discuss, who do not demand CVs upfront, who provide honest feedback on realistic chances, and who respect the confidentiality required of the profession.

    There’s a good clue embedded in my first message on an agency to avoid. Try this – scout job boards for roles, spot this agency which has flooded them with roles, which requires CVs sent to generic mailboxes without mention of any consultant’s name, which immediately responds with an automated email requiring disclosure of other interviews, and which badgers you with follow-up enquiries of similar nature, and which doesn’t really give you more than what you provide.

  22. Hey. There is still a difference between something and nothing, but it is purely geometrical and there is nothing behind the geometry.
    I am from Liechtenstein and also now’m speaking English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Com offers discount international airline tickets and to search and book discount airline tickets, or make car, hotel, or other travel.”

    With best wishes ;-), Alavda.

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