Just when it seemed safe to contemplate a deposit on a Porsche or a second home in the Cotswolds, redundancies are back. For staff at Commerzbank in London who get the axe, what are the chances of finding a new job soon?
Not bad, says Caroline Sheridan, head of business development for global markets at Drake Beam and Morin (DBM), the outplacement company: 'It's a buoyant market at the moment. Bankers who have been made redundant are going back to work more quickly than last year. Some are getting two or three offers.'
That's if you happen to work in the right sector. The future, for example, looks brighter for redundant corporate financiers and fixed income specialists than for equities professionals. Vasco Moreno, banks analyst and director of research at Keefe Bruyette & Woods, says most banks are finding it hard to make a profit out of equities; few are hiring as a result.
This will come as bad news to equity teams at Commerzbank, who are likely to bear the brunt of the redundancies expected to be announced today along with the Q3 results. 'Equities is one area where it made a lot of sense for Commerzbank to cut,' says Moreno. 'Commerzbank is a sub-par player.'
For Commerzbankers then, finding a new job depends on where they worked and how well they performed in their old one. For equities staff at Commerzbank, things don't look too good on either basis. 'It's always difficult to walk away from a job in a business that has been closed,' says Simon Hall, a partner in the financial services division of Heidrick & Struggles in London.
Recruiters cast aspersions on the quality of the people holding on at Commerzbank's beleaguered equities division: 'The best people have left already and the profitable areas of the business, special situations for example, aren't being hit,' says one.
Fixed income staff at the bank may have reason to be more optimistic. 'There are some decent guys at Commerzbank', says a specialist fixed income headhunter, 'We've been targeting people from Commerzbank for a while: they tend to be less secure and some of them are actually quite good.'
While some corporate financiers are likely to be hit by redundancy, others may find a few interested hirers. 'There are no stars in Commerzbank's corporate finance department,' says a recruiter at a leading boutique. 'It is unlikely they will ever make it into the bulge bracket.' She advises corporate financiers to try the likes of Bank of America, ABN Amro, and HSBC.
Even if ex-Commerzbankers do walk into new jobs, the Porsche and second home are likely to remain out of reach. Headhunters predict bonuses this year at the Commerzbank will be poor to meagre, in part due to former investment banking head Mehmet Dalman running up hires before leaving Commerzbank in October. 'Dalman promised €30m ($39m) of guarantees to people who are now leaving', says one, 'That was the entire bonus pool.'