Firstly, a very happy New Year to everyone, and best wishes for 2009. Crawling out of bed on a pitch dark freezing morning at the start of January is never a highlight of the year. But this year seems darker and colder than usual (and not only because I have turned my heating down).
Seasonal reports of bankers blowing bonuses on fast cars and expensive pieds-a-terre are a thing of the past. 2009 looks set to be about more government intervention in the form of bailouts for banks. What this means for staffing levels and the investment banking industry as a whole isn't clear, but it's unlikely to be good.
One business on the up is the insolvency arms of the big four accountancy firms, which are being stretched by the meltdown on the high street. Risk consultancy is also a potential light in the darkness. In the past few days I've even had a few promising calls with firms in this area. Not that promising though - given the number of ex-bankers rushing to reinvent themselves as risk specialists, the space is a little crowded.
Depressingly, it seems that the only true potential for a busy 2009 will be the soul-destroying world of regulation. The FSA is charging ahead with its ambitious recruitment plans. If you find yourself down at the Wharf for an interview, prepare your best poker face in preparation for the question: "Why do you want to work for the FSA?"
If, unlike me, you come up with a plausible response and are taken on by the newly empowered regulator, be prepared to issue swathes of paperwork aimed at closing the gate after the horse has well and truly bolted. You can console yourself with the thought that you'll probably have a chance to cash in on your knowledge as harried investment banks struggle to wade through the reams of new documentation. The meek may well inherit the earth.
If 2008 taught me anything, except that daytime television is the work of the devil, it was that it's easy to become insular about your career. Losing my job and seeing the industry I've worked in for over 10 years melt down before my very eyes was incredibly daunting.
However, looking back it's made me realise that these things happen. They are to be accepted rather than feared and new opportunities will arise. It's a lesson that I am sure will set me in good stead in future - even if it does sound like amateur psychological mumbo jumbo.
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