I used to work in ‘banking’. Before I lost my job with a top European bank two years ago, I spent 20 years trading cash equities. I’ve worked across the cash world: algorithmic trading, client interaction, agency execution, risk manager. Twenty four months after being made redundant, I’m still looking for something else.
I know what you’re thinking: that I must be a bit rubbish. That I’m old school and that I didn’t keep up to date with all the new systems. I’m not, and I did. Banking is an industry where the axe can fall at any time; never think you’re immune. This is what I wish I knew before it fell on me.
1. Don’t take a long break before you start looking for a new job
2. Don’t assume there are other jobs to be had
When I came back after that year away, I started looking. I put a lot of energy into it, but after around six months it became apparent that there just weren’t any jobs (or hardly any). That still applies. There are so few openings out there that you end up calling headhunters about the same jobs all the time. After a bit, they stop returning your calls and are always busy when you try reaching them.
3. Just because you see an interesting job advertised, that doesn’t mean someone will be hired
The problem is, no one is willing to make a hiring decision. You see a job advertised, but there’s no follow-up when you apply and no real and firm commitment to actually filling it.
4. Just because someone says they’d like to make you a job offer, don’t assume you’re hired
I’ve come close to getting a job three times this year. On each occasion, it’s fallen through: budgets have been pulled or there have been problems with the process.
5. Don’t assume you can just walk into a risk or compliance job as an alternative
Everyone knows there’s loads of hiring in risk and compliance, right? Well, no, not actually. Hiring in risk and compliance is slowing down and when they hire they’re as fussy as a trading desk. The people who are hiring for risk want someone with experience in risk – not an ex-trader. That said, I’ve been looking into compliance and surveillance and have been taking the CISI’s compliance exams just to show I’m serious.
6. You need to keep your mind occupied
Don’t dwell on your predicament. Get out, study, meet contacts for coffee. Keep yourself busy.
7. Make the most of it
Being out of the market is hard, but I wouldn’t change it. I’ve become a full-time dad and these two years have been an amazing chance to spend time with my family.
8. Take out redundancy insurance now
Just do it. I didn’t know about redundancy insurance, but it would’ve made all the difference.
Damian Brown is a pseudonym for a London-based equities trader