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EDITOR’S TAKE: It’s too late to make amends

If the organisation you work for has announced redundancies and indicated that your job is ‘at risk’, you will inevitably want to do all you can to save it. Put in extra hours, ingratiate yourself with management, ingratiate yourself with clients, ingratiate yourself with subordinates: whatever it takes will appear worth it.

The reality, however, is that it may be too late to make a difference.

Writing in the Financial Times earlier this week, Lina Saigol said Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are starting to tackle the crossovers between the two organisations.

Saigol said managers from both sides are being asked to produce “CVs; profiles; deal lists; client relationships and revenue generation going back two years [our emphasis], banker by banker”, to help determine who should stay and who should go.

At BofA and Merrill, survivors will therefore not be those who share drinks with the boss or suddenly improve their performance in the final quarter of 2008. Survivors will be those who can prove they have achieved consistently over the past 24 months.

Mounting layoffs and pressure to cut costs quickly may prevent other banks from being as rigorous as Merrill and BofA. The head of HR at one US firm says analysing performance quantitatively over this length of time is unusual.

Instead, he says it’s common to base redundancy decisions on a more transparent indicator of historical performance: recent bonuses. “If you have received a good bonus over the past few years, it is usually a good indication that you will be shielded from redundancy,” he says.

A VP at one US firm points out that a merely good bonus may not be enough, however. With most people paid well since 2006, it is only people who received the largest payouts who can consider themselves truly immune.

The VP adds that, in his opinion, the people best equipped to survive the next 12 months will be those with a long track record in a single firm: “It will help if you have a long institutional history with one firm which means your performance over the cycle is observable.”

By comparison, he predicts that the most vulnerable will be those who have joined relatively recently, particularly on guaranteed packages. “People who came in on guarantees in the past two years have been complacent about their performance,” he says.

Comments (9)

  1. I appreciate things are not exactly great right now, but any chance you could actually source an article, any article on the site that may a little more upbeat.
    It has been nothing but doom and more gloom all week, it’s not as if we visit the site unless we had reason to anyhow…..

  2. Regarding ML and BoA:
    Merger between banks are always a bloodbath for employees… I think ML brokers are OK and should not be cut, as well private bankers, but private equity, principal investments, propretary trading and leverage finance people will be cut a lot. Investment bankers should be ok in terms of lack of overlap btw the 2 banks, but there is no business at the moment and I expect they will be cut 40%…
    We will not see 50k jobs gone as it happened in Citigroup, but I think it will be between 20k and 35k…
    I would appreciate someone else opinion on the final number…

  3. Clubsport: We do write upbeat articles wherever possible. The Olympics article is intended to signpost future opportunities, the risk bonus article indicates an area of optimism, the Lucky Lehman staff article shows some people are still doing well, and the opportunities in insurance article was meant to be positive – but unfortunately had to be moderated in tone when research showed that there weren’t as many opportunities as we’d anticipated. We do, however, hear your concerns and will endeavour to be upbeat where possible.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  4. Have no fear if you lose your job…it seems a headhunter advertising on this page (right hand side) will be able to transport you to a parallel dimension where there are lots of jobs available!

  5. Ref Headhunter roles aplenty…there are certainly many roles out there but the Employers can afford to be picky 1-2 yrs experience after a MsC Fin or a Cass degree will not do now as it has in the past..Demonstrable skills and a track record will..
    and no its not just me being nasty as i did not get a degree..fortunately the 19 yrs experience have finally come in helpful…that and the fact that i have just taken a 33% pay cut to do a lesser role for an inferior ( tho significantly bigger by Market Cap) Company ..c’est la vie

  6. At least for the first time, the ratio of phoney vacancies to real ones has reduced. I have noticed that the jobs advertised in the quant section have been the same ones for quite a while now.

    Not thinking of jumping ship but who knows anything anymore in this climate. My models predict absolute ………………!

    Take note, we are watching you!!!

  7. another 3k cuts at JPM… oh my god! they are cutting people without even an idea of who they cut… they just cut… my advise is to go to a boutique…

    Sarah, I saw you finally posted your picture on the web site. Great! WHY YOU DIDN’T DO THAT BEFORE!

  8. M&A, I do post my photo – but only when I write slightly longer opinion-style articles.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  9. Sarah,
    I would to invite you for a drink. to talk about opportunities in the current market environment. Would you be avialble next Friday?

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