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How bad will it be if you lose your banking job now?

If you lose your banking job in 2019, it surely won't be easy to find a new one. So many people are already looking, so many banks are retrenching, and so many roles are being automated that being out of the market might seem a career-ending move. And yet, it might not be that bad.

“If you’re hungry, serious and pragmatic in your approach there are some good jobs out there. It isn’t all doom and gloom,” says Aaron Bartlett at London search firm Elliott Ross. 

Nomura made wholesale cuts three months ago. Auspiciously, some of those let go by the Japanese bank have already been rehoused. Jefferies hired a handful of Nomura’s credit traders. Deutsche Bank hired some of Nomura’s emerging market traders, even as it contemplates making its own cuts. Other ex-Nomura staff have turned up everywhere from Mizuho to Mediobanca, to JPMorgan.

It helps that even as Deutsche Bank, HSBC, SocGen, Mitsubishi UFJ, Stifel and others are cutting costs, there is hiring. Mizuho is understood to be retooling its fixed income trading business. Jefferies has increased its headcount by 10% - or 350 people already this year. HSBC is hiring brokers in London even as it retrenches and Deutsche Bank has also been recruiting (particularly from Nomura), even as contemplates big cuts. 

This doesn't mean that finding a new job is going to be easy. Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley says new financial services job vacancies in London were down 50% in April 2019 compared to a year earlier. And, again using Nomura's April redundancies as a guide, just four out of a sample of 14 credit salespeople and traders have currently been re-employed - a success rate of less than 30%.

"Sell yourself"

We spoke to a selection of people who are still on the streets after leaving banks involuntarily earlier this year. Their message was noticeably consistent: if you want a new job, you'll need to prove your worth.

"My role was made redundant at the end of March and I've made seven job applications so far," says one former Deutsche Bank equities director, speaking on condition of anonymity. The market is "very slow," he adds, with very little appetite to take a risk on a new hire. "I am having to approach heads of businesses and sell myself directly."

Another ex-Deutsche Bank managing director says finding a new job is "challenging" in the current market, but there are opportunities if you can sell yourself and show what you can add to a business. "You need to think laterally and creatively about the skills and abilities you have, rather than simply trying to do the same job elsewhere," he says. 

The situation is similar on Wall Street. There, one former M&A MD at Nomura says he's taking his talents to boutiques rather than big banks. "Generally, the boutiques are more entrepreneurial and willing to explore new hires," he says. "I'm approaching firms that are considering building a platform but don't consider it a priority."

If you're senior and you want a new job, you have to make the case for another bank to hire you. And that in itself is a full-time job.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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