Follow your neighbour: how one departure leads to another

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Why is it that the same banks experience multiple exits at this time of year? Headhunters put it down to herd mentality.

"Once one person leaves, it makes it easier for all the rest to leave too," says James Richardson, a consultant at search firm Odgers Ray & Berndtson. "If you're the only person leaving, you'll question whether you're doing the right thing. But once you hear that three or four colleagues are going, it makes it all the easier to take the plunge," he says.

Herd mentality may help explain the recent exodus from UBS and Bank of America. UBS, for example, lost four bankers from its UK equities business in 24 hours at the start of this week, followed by a leveraged finance banker a day later. Meanwhile Bank of America has lost its head of debt capital markets, head of structured credit trading, and a director of credit-default swap trading in the past few days, and recruiters say there are more losses to come.

There may also be other reasons for the exodus. "At Bank of America, it's the age old story of the bank not paying great bonuses, and not really knowing what it's doing strategically," says Richardson. Other recruiters say the exits at UBS were down to a combination of stock vesting dates, and lost power struggles.

A spokesman at UBS declined to comment. Bank of America did not immediately return a call on the subject.