Alleged redundancies at Berenberg suggest the speed with which the equities hiring market has turned necrotic

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One minute Berenberg was hiring. Now, we hear, it has been firing.

In July 2010, it declared its intention of hiring 25 people to its equity research team in London. In the event, equities recruiters say it hired something more like 65 people across its London business.

Now, after bringing all those people on board, there's reputedly a move to cut costs.

Equities headhunters say Berenberg has let go of around 5 people already and that there may be more cuts to come. Some of them joined as recently as January.

Junior staff are thought to be first in line for removal. "A lot of the juniors might only be on 40-80k a year, but they aren't generating any income for the firm and bringing in a revenue stream," claims one headhunter, who asked to remain anonymous.

Berenberg said it continues hiring people for its London business, but did not comment on the redundancy allegations. If true, they mark a rapid reversal from 9 months ago, when the firm was in build out mode and allegedly paying big packages (of up to 1m) to bring people on board.

Anyone let go is likely to struggle: equities hiring has died a sudden death. "Things have turned very quickly," says the headhunter. "There is a genuine concern that if volumes don't pick up soon, some smaller equities businesses might even shut down."

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