LEX VAN DAM: It is a massacre out there

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I have been a trader for nearly two decades and I have never ever seen

so many traders lose their jobs or give up as in the last few weeks.

Investment banks and brokers have suddenly begun shrinking their workforce en masse. The opportunities for banks to make money have been reduced dramatically and they just don't need as many people anymore.

At the same time, people who've worked in the industry for 10+ years and who went

through the credit crisis can see the whole thing repeating itself - but worse. And they don't want to sit through it again.

A lot of them have already seen the value of their stock awards collapse and mentally they can't deal with sitting around and waiting for the next round of cuts. 2008 could turn out to be a mere prelude to what's coming now: governments seem insistent on shrinking the banks.

The tendency of bank management to not retain enough profits for lean

years but instead 'rob' the bank every single year in the form of

exorbitant bonus payments will play no small role in this. Job losses

could be huge - maybe as much as 25% across the board.

Many of the experienced traders and investment bankers I know are getting out - either voluntarily or because they've been forced. A lot of them are saying they want to do something else with their life.

Unfortunately, it's not very obvious what that will be. There aren't a lot of industries that are growing right now. Some of them will try their luck in Asia. Others are taking their kids of out private schools and getting out of London. This city is ridiculously expensive unless you earn a high income.

For many, this will be the end of the road for their career in financial services. It will cause serious upheaval in their lives. This feels like the end of an era.

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