Job losses could be 'blessing' for some

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The fall-out from the recent spate of investment bank mergers may not be as draconian as some fear. Job losses resulting from Credit Suisse First Boston's takeover of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, and Chase Manhattan's acquisition of JP Morgan, could even be a blessing in disguise, says Michael Moran, executive director of Meridian Consulting in London.

'It's always an opportunity rather than a tragedy for the majority of people. People who want to stay in the world of finance will remain if they really wish to do so, but for those with itchy feet, it represents the perfect opportunity to head elsewhere, with an impressive array of transferable skills.'

Moran adds that the average amount of time investment banking personnel currently spend languishing on the job market is 12-13 weeks. Many usually find employment at the newly merged bank, he says, adding that 80% of Bankers Trust staff ended up in jobs at Deutsche Bank following its takeover of the US bank in 1999. 'What I'm not saying is there won't be job losses, but people do find positions elsewhere. CSFB will be looking to retain as many of DLJ's staff as possible - they were top-flight people.'

Others are less sanguine. A former JP Morgan fixed income stalwart, now at BNP Paribas, says that the 10,000 figure reported earlier this week for global job losses from the Chase-JPM deal sounds about right: 'Firms in M&A situations are often optimistic about cost savings, but they underestimate job losses. There is overlap in fixed income, emerging markets and foreign exchange, but less in lending and corporate finance M&A.'

By the end of last week, Bill Harrison, Chase's chairman, countered rumours of mass lay-offs by maintaining that there would be fewer than 3,000 job losses. Employees, however, are making their own assessments. One online message board advises: 'My advice to JPM people: get the hell out now while you still can on your own terms.'