From desk to door (in one easy move)

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Beware a promotion to desk researcher. One headhunter says banks are using it as a shortcut to get rid of unwanted research staff.

"I've seen several cases in which a move to desk research has been a pre-cursor for dismissal," she says. "It's a quick way of showing up someone's shortcomings."

Unlike traditional equity (and fixed income) researchers, who sit in darkened rooms producing lengthy tomes on particular securities, desk researchers are located on the trading floor and expected to produce real-time trading ideas for a bank's traders.

In 50% of cases, says Jonathan Evans, managing director of search firm Sammons Associates, the move is a good one - with desk researchers producing helpful (read profitable) ideas and boosting their earnings massively (500k isn't out of the question). In the other 50%, he says, researchers' inability to generate good ideas is revealed and they're quickly shown the door.

One former darkened-room researcher turned desk researcher confirms the going in his new role can be tough. "It's definitely a higher pressure position," he tells us. "You can end up earning a load more, but you need to be able to handle the pressure. It will probably shorten the length of your career - there's only so much stress you can take for so long."

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