Living dangerously: Diary of an ABS professional, Week 7

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In which a job offer comes in sight, and just as quickly goes.

It's said that networking (or at least having a network of people who think you're worth paying a large bonus to) helps a chap who's down on his luck, and this week, I had first-hand proof of its benefits.

A former colleague kindly arranged an interview for me with a fund. As it came via my 'network', I was very fortunate to interview for the job before a recruitment firm had been appointed to try and fill the position.

I was asked to describe my experience and modestly said it was very broad and that the only area of structured finance where I don't have a great deal of experience is CDOs. My interviewer coughed, smiled, and said that was precisely what they were looking for - someone with strong CDO experience to deal with some of their existing positions and review any future investment opportunities.

In personal terms, this was a record for blowing an interview up. It was a shame, given it was the first time since university that I've had to interview without the comfort of already having a job. Sadly, the warm recommendation from my former colleague could do nothing to save me.

Most of all, though, I was quite surprised to find there's still demand for CDO positions - I promptly told my interviewer there are plenty of good people with the right experience on the market and that they should be able to find someone very quickly.

It was, at least, good to have my first interview since I was made redundant; it brings back some scrap of hope in this desolated market, even though I royally managed to kill any chance I had with that particular fund. In any case, the receptionist there was far too hot and some other unidentified women on the floor would have proved too much of a distraction for me.

To cheer myself up, I've signed up for a contract on a Blackberry. I've been feeling naked without one and figured that having the buzzing black box in my pocket would help restore my dignity. It's almost pathetic that I opted for a work tool and brushed aside any of the fancy phones one can buy nowadays. However, the desired result has been achieved: I already feel better.

The fact that the pain of redundancy appears to be spreading has also given me a shiver of (sadistic) pleasure: I feel less lonely. I was outraged by the appalling behaviour of the bank I worked for, but last week I heard about an even more outrageous mass execution of structured finance dudes. The FT contained a banal line saying that DBRS, the Canadian rating agency which has been trying to establish a foothold in Europe, was closing down its European operations.

From what I heard, and this is totally unconfirmed by DBRS, the parent of the European subsidiary decided to call their shareholder loan and liquidate their European operations. The employees were sent home and told that not only was there no assurance they would be paid their notice but also that there was no guarantee they would be paid for January.

Rating agencies have been selling themselves to their employees on the assurance, albeit spoken rather than written, that they offer more job security than in banks, if not always less work. We'll soon see what the more established rating agencies will do with regard to such an assurance in the current market conditions.

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