TRANCHED: Working feels odd

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The first few days back in an office felt extremely odd. After virtually six months of doing whatever I fancied, it feels strange to be tied to someone else's timetable. The role I find myself in is a bit more eat-what-you-kill than I'd been led to believe. It will probably provide a fairly volatile income, but at least it means I'm focusing on financial things again.

The business is a new start-up within the consultancy space. Those who have joined as permanent members of staff exude a fundamentalist zeal. Personally, I'm testing the water: I'm not going to commit until I have more information. I still intend to pursue my long-term career goals, but I also need to put in sufficient effort to keep my day job lucrative. I imagine this will prove a delicate balancing act.

I met up with some former colleagues late last week. They described a fairly savage backdrop at the now-nationalised bank. The picture is one of long hours with no work to do. Face time has become a valuable commodity and whatever scraps of work are tossed into the cage are leapt upon and jealously guarded. It's not a question of if there will be more redundancies, but when.

Unsurprisingly, even the most upbeat of my former colleagues are now melancholic to the extreme. It doesn't help that they know that any redundancy payout is likely to be pruned by their new masters, who will be keen to prevent the villains from walking away with any of the taxpayer's loot. The timing of my redundancy now looks like a blessing in disguise.

I may be jumping the gun here, but I'm beginning to see a faint pattern developing in the recruitment market in the structured credit/CDO space. It seems a few jobs have begun to appear on the buy side.

Late in 2007 and early in 2008, it looked like this could be the natural resting place for those of us looking to turn from poacher to gamekeeper. The collapse that followed in quarters two and three of this year killed these ideas dead, but from conversations I've had and websites I've scoured, there seems to be a slight uptick in activity on this side of the business.

This doesn't mean that everyone displaced by the structured credit turmoil will find themselves gainfully employed. But it may mean that a thaw is underway.

CDO Joe is a structured products specialist who lost his job 23 weeks ago.

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