Unlike hiring announcements, layoffs are never huge PR exercises for financial firms. But although cuts in Asia haven’t been massive (so far), at least compared with in the US and Europe, firing is indeed going on steadily and stealthily.
If you’ve been unfortunately let go, here’s some sound advice from Hong-Kong based headhunter Marie Quismorio Herrera, associate principal, Heidrick & Struggles.
· Remember that being retrenched isn’t necessarily about performance, sometimes people are let go just because head office says so. Herrera has seen sales people and traders who have been laid off despite meeting targets.
· Accept that in your next banking job, compensation will probably be on par, or even less than your previous role. Most laid-off bankers have diminished bargaining power, so it’s not possible to get an increase unless you have a very strong track record. You will also have to really prove your worth in the first year with your new bank.
· Stay open to new learning opportunities, even those outside of banking. Herrera knows of newly-jobless bankers who have used this time to do an MBA, learn Mandarin, or even take cooking courses.
· If banking is still what you want to do, try rebranding yourself. Herrera has seen sales candidates try to become relationship managers in private banking by first becoming private banking product specialists.
· Be honest about being let go: Employers can and will check on your past.
· Keep an open mind and meet people, even if it’s an opportunity with a firm you haven’t always been keen on. If all your experience is in large firms, don’t rule out looking at some of the smaller boutique players which have a good reputation.
· Don’t be too proud to take the redundancy package. Herrera says most firms will provide a minimum of four months’ pay when jobs are slashed. Of course if you have managed a team before and are very senior, the deal will be more generous.
· Don’t rush into a job straight away just because you’ve been let go. Next year is less than three months away and firms will create new hiring demand by then.
· Don’t move just for the money. If it’s a business-changing hire, perhaps the firm will consider a guaranteed bonus, but bankers certainly can’t demand two-year guarantees anymore. Although compensation is still a vital consideration, other factors like potential growth and broader exposure are also important.