TRANCHED: Life after CDOs, Week 15

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The summer holidays are drifting towards a close, with two weeks left of August before the beaches of Southern Europe empty and bankers and investors return to their desks.

Their mood could determine the longevity of the credit crunch. For those of us forced to watch from the sidelines this summer, the direction the market takes over the last four months of the year could be vital for careers in the coming months.

A poor start to September is likely to force recruiters to hold off until the New Year before considering hiring. A solid start to the post-holiday period could drive a late hiring spree for 2008.

The relative calm that has crept into the markets in the last few weeks and the rebounding from lows seen in July could point to a turning of the corner in terms of market dislocation, whereas a big sell-off in September might push markets into a bleak winter. Let's hope the groundhog doesn't see a shadow and predict a long cold winter.

My initial assumption that August would be a frustrating month of unanswered phones and out of office messages has been proven unsound. A number of diverse opportunities have in fact thrown themselves my way.

These vary from hedge funds to insurance and a number of opportunities in between. Rather than worry about whether I will get a job or not, I am now faced with the nicer problem of deciding which way my future career lies.

At the moment the favourite seems to be a shift into insurance. I never thought I would hear myself say that, but insurance itself seems to have weathered the stormy credit seas far better than the banks, which are likely to remain capital constrained and brooding for some time to come.

A number of friends in the insurance markets have been very kind in offering advice. It seems that this market is in general far more open to outsiders with experience in other sectors, seeing the value in a broad range of skills to an insurance market that is looking to steal a march on the hand-tied banks.

One of the most interesting elements of my job search so far has been the power of networks. Those who read my columns back in May and June may have noted my complete lack of understanding as to what networking truly entails.

Back then, I assumed that the default option of using recruitment consultants to get me back in the market would be the answer. In truth, the brightest, most interesting and desirable roles have all come through friends and acquaintances, people who have been willing to give me the help and advice required to move forwards.

My scepticism of networking has been shattered and I am now a firm believer. I would advise those of you out there who are still pounding the phones to a long list of headhunters to take a break and consider your network and what it has to offer.

An event I attended over the weekend demonstrated to me the best niche in the City. OK, they may not be in the headlines for multi-million pound payoffs but the life of an interdealer broker is pretty sweet.

Many of the traders for whom these guys make prices would wince at the amount of money their brokers are taking home at the end of each quarter. Remember this is zero-risk money, the matching of two counterparts on a price - it's not rocket science.

Fair play to these brokers, they have had to put up with traders who treat them like dirt and entertain people who spend much of the working day insulting them. But when all is said and done the money more than compensates for the abuse. For those of you with a thick skin and the gift of the gab it is definitely a place I would consider.

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