TRANCHED: Life after CDOs, Week 16

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I am getting very rusty. Four months of not having to think very hard has left me mentally blunted.

This became very obvious in an interview the other day. I was being quizzed on my structured credit knowledge, and facts and figures that three months ago I could recite in my sleep seemed to have seeped out of my brain.

I was like a tired old boxer unable to match the sharp reactions of my interviewers as they probed with ever more menace at my addled mind. The worst thing about it is that I didn't see it coming. I thought I was still fresh and tuned in to the market, but too much time at home has taken its toll.

Put it this way, the hour-long interview seemed to take an eternity and I felt physically shaken upon leaving, not an experience I want to repeat. So I have decided to dedicate some time to revising a few topics to keep myself in tip-top condition.

In fact, I have reached a stage where I am getting extremely frustrated with the whole job-hunting process at the moment, not because opportunities are thin on the ground but because at the crux point of each job the true nature of the role emerges.

Three times in the last week I have been discussing roles with recruiters, and just when I seem to be getting my hopes up some enormous elephant in the room is revealed that changes the whole picture. It is enormously discouraging.

At one interview this week we were discussing an equity stake in the company as part of the package, which sounded of interest, only for the entire nature of the proposed corporate structure to be revealed. Getting to this point had taken hours of discussions and endless meetings. Once the true deal was revealed, the facts made the job far less attractive and a non-starter from my point of view.

The whole thing is almost more frustrating than falling at the first hurdle - just when you think you are almost over the line, the rules of the game seem to shift. I accept that it is my fault for not getting the facts straight from the offset, but in many cases the format of the interview has been more of a vague chat than a structured clear discussion in which hard facts like precise salary are hammered down.

The truth is I need to be harsher and nail down these facts at the very start of the process - lesson learnt.

Like many banks around the City, my previous employer required 35% of bonuses to be invested within a staff retention plan targeted at keeping key employees loyal during the boom times.

Upon redundancy, this money remains tied into the scheme. The irony of being forced to keep money in a scheme to promote loyalty post-redundancy is particularly galling. Worse still, the scheme does not allow switching of funds.

Therefore, whilst I have been out of work the value of the funds continues to slide and there is not a single thing I can do about it. It would appear that loyalty is very much a one-way street in the banking industry.

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