It has been a case of out of the frying pan, into the fire, and out of the fire and into the vortex. Back in May 2009, Evolution hired 45 equity researchers, traders and salespeople from Dresdner, thereby saving them from the horrors of cost cutting following Commerzbank's acquisition.
For a while, it was all fine. But then in March 2011, Evolution decided to retrench from non-UK markets in Europe and cut 30 people who were working on them. Six months' later, in September 2011, Evolution was sold to Investec and in December 2011 Investec eviscerated much of Evolution's equity research team, making around half of them redundant.
The Investec episode of the sorry tale is suggested in the graph below, from IMAS. This shows FSA approved persons working at Investec Bank in the UK. They went from 308 in November 2011 to 370 in December 2011 (when we suspect the Evolution staff were moved across). But by March 2011 42 of the additional 62 staff appeared to have gone.
Now it seems the survivors of all these previous culls, plus their colleagues at Investec, are at risk of further traumatic job injuries. Yesterday, Investec released its results for the six months to September 2011. They don't look good. European 'corporate advisory and investment activities' made a loss of £2m. Through no fault of its own, numbers for the UK business are suffering as a result of the decline in the pound against the Rand, said Investec. It's also expected to report worse results than last year, "largely driven by lower investment and trading income."
Predictably, therefore, we are already hearing rumours that redundancies at Investec are imminent. The bank is said to be planning yet another restructuring of its equities business, and yes it is rumoured to be cutting yet more of the hapless equities professionals who joined from Evolution - although the net may be spread wider. "This is going to be about cutting anyone who's not deemed a necessity to the business," alleges one headhunter.
None of this has been confirmed by Investec. But if the rumours are true, what are the alternatives?
"Very very few options are officially available to these guys," says the headhunter. "However some of the more senior members will have good franchises and will now be a cheaper option for companies who want to upgrade."
They need to move fast, he says. Nomura is also making cuts and competition for equities jobs is increasing.