Great big redundancies, teeny tiny bonuses

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The latest prognostication from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) doesn't make for pleasant reading.

The Centre, an economics think tank which produces regular forecasts about everything from jobs and bonuses to military spending, says it made a mistake.

Having previously forecast that 7,000 City jobs would be shed this year, the CEBR has now amended its predictions. Due to the persistence of the credit crunch, it now thinks 11,000 jobs will go in 2008, and that another 8,000 will go in 2009.

Nor does the bad news stop there. With redundancies so far focused in structured credit and other areas directly allied to the crunch, the CEBR is predicting that M&A and capital markets bankers will be next.

It also says bonuses this year will be down 40% in 2008, and that it will be 2012 before we next see payouts at the level of 2007.

The commoditisation of investment banking

Douglas McWilliams, chief executive of the CEBR, says we're in the midst of a paradigm shift: "We're expecting a huge decline in productivity in M&A as bankers lose out on the fees they've been earning from mega-deals over the past few years.

"With fees plummeting, and the sector becoming less productive, what's surprising is not that 20,000 jobs are being cut, but that 100,000 jobs aren't being cut," he adds.

Bankers who keep their jobs have the flexibility of bonuses to thank - plus the fact that we're starting from a fairly high baseline of productivity. Figures from McKinsey (quoted in a recent Financial Times article) suggest that in 2006 profits per head in banking were 26 times higher than the average across other industries worldwide.

VPs safe, MDs not

One senior M&A banker agrees the writing's on the wall: "Let's be honest - there aren't any deals this year and those there are, are tiny and equity funded."

Although global investment banking revenues plunged 45% in the first quarter, Bank of America and CIBC are among the few banks to have made deep cuts to investment banking divisions so far. "You certainly get the feeling that there are more cuts on the way," says Nathan Luckas at search firm Kinsey Allen.

VPs should be immune to the cull as they remain in relatively short supply following the under-hiring of 2001-02. MDs, directors, analysts and associates are expected to bear the brunt of the cuts.

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