Chops at the top

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Early indications are that banks are going for senior and mid-ranking heads rather than the green shoots of junior talent.

The Financial Times reported last week that Credit Suisse has cut 24 investment banking jobs, of which nine were managing directors and nine were directors, leaving a mere 25% to come from the junior ranks.

UBS, meanwhile, is rumoured to have cut three people from its London CMBS team so far (out of an anticipated 1,500 cuts across investment banking globally), of whom two were vice presidents and one was an associate. Morgan Stanley is rumoured to have cut numerous executive directors from its London structured products team. And DealBreaker reports that JPMorgan has cut "expensive people" (i.e. three out of four VPs, two associates and no analysts) from its US loan structuring group.

Most banks have sacrificed a few high-profile lambs to the altar. Chris Hentemann, head of global structured products at Bank of America, is the latest to go, following in the footsteps of Huw Jenkins, head of UBS investment bank, Osman Semerci and Dale Lattanzio at Merrill, plus a list of others that's becoming too long to mention.

Credit-focused headhunters say getting rid of senior people makes sense - and not just because they cost more: "The areas at the epicentre of the cuts - structured credit and leveraged finance - are where most of the junior A players are working," says one. "Every bank will be making a substantial effort to redeploy these junior people internally. Seniors are a lot harder to redeploy."

Juniors aren't entirely immune to being chopped, however. "I've had approaches from people who've been let go from JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and Calyon," says another structured credit headhunter. "And they've all been either analysts or associates."

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