Slow death for structured credit professionals

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First came RBS, then Barclays Capital, then Deutsche Bank. Now Credit Suisse is lynching its CDO professionals. Who's next?

Deutsche Bank, again, according to The Times. The German bank , which reportedly shut its credit proprietary trading desk in June, is thought likely to write down loans worth as much as 1.2bn when it announces its third quarter results next month.

Deutsche may not be alone. Many of the job cuts to date - Credit Suisse included - have been focused on the US. One structured credit headhunter says London will be next: "The market is 30% oversupplied in terms of staffing. We've gone from a business that was worth US$700bn to one that's worth not even half that."

He predicts marginal performers will be culled across the sector, but argues the most vulnerable are those at working in newly formed CDO teams or in small players such as West LB and Royal Bank of Canada. In sales, the best placed to ride out the downturn will apparently be those with strong client relationships who can work across products: "It's going to be about who you're talking to and your multi-product reach."

Meanwhile, there are signs that banks which have been building in structured credit are having second thoughts. French investment bank Calyon planned to increase headcount in its credit markets and CDO group from 180 to more than 240 this year, but is rumoured to have begun removing heads instead.

Pessimism isn't all-pervasive, however. Alex Tracey, managing director of structured credit search firm Clifden Partners, says there will be hiring next year even after heads roll this year: "Banks will see this as a chance to upgrade in structured credit at a much lower cost."

How much lower will that cost be? Tracey says structured credit pros are currently going for 20% to 30% less than last year - and falling.