You’re a banker (.ie, you work in ‘banking’). Not just any banker – you’re the sort who makes it rain, causes a frisson of excitement among colleagues and clients when you walk into a room, who’s pursued by rival organizations bearing guaranteed bonuses and who takes an active interest in career advancement. So, what do you do come the summer months to further your career? Answer: you spend the entire time sitting on the beach. Not for one week, not for two weeks: for three months, or more.
Two words: gardening leave. Sitting out of the market and getting paid while you wait for your notice period and non-compete to elapse. If you planned your 2016 job search correctly, you’ll be on it.
“It’s all quietened down now,” says the head of one City of London search firm. “The schools have broken up and a lot of people are already away. The decision-makers have gone. I’ve got a few people due to start in September and October and they’re taking the summer out in gardening leave.”
Who are they? He declined to mention, but we can name a few top London names who’ve played the job market with impeccable timing. Several are from SocGen, which was cutting costs at its investment bank earlier this year and has a history of offering very generous voluntary redundancy packages with non-compete clauses to prevent staff moving into new roles immediately. They include David Escoffier, the ex-global head of markets at SocGen (currently in the Caribbean), and Alexandre Houpert, the French bank’s former European head of cross asset retail distribution. Houpert is said to be joining J.P. Morgan but is taking a summer off. Then there’s Joseph Mauro, the former European head of fixed income, currencies, and commodities hedge fund sales at Goldman Sachs. Mauro left in June to join a hedge fund in New York, but has a few months to kill first.
If you have any sense in banking, you don’t spend the summer job-hunting, You look for jobs between January and March, secure an offer between April and June, and then hand in your notice and disappear until the weather turns.
“Hedge funds can make candidates take gardening leave of nine months or even a year,” says Zaheer Ebrahim at the search firm the Kennedy Group. “We have one guy who left in February and hasn’t joined his new fund yet.”
Of course, if you don’t have a new job already and are spending the summer trying to find one, the knowledge that some people have already lined up new positions and are basking in indolence is unlikely to be especially encouraging. Especially as the widely iterated belief is that there’ll be another round of layoffs in September. “There are quite a few people on gardening leave and it’s obviously ideal to spend the summer off,” says David Reynolds of fixed income search firm Scott Reynolds. “But to do that you need to land a good job, and there aren’t many of those out there.”