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.
Given that I had 20 years' experience at a market leader in Europe, I thought finding a new job would be easy. I took a year out before I even started looking for a job. Huge mistake.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don't dwell on your predicament. Get out, study, meet contacts for coffee. Keep yourself busy.
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.
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