Surviving the Great Purge

eFC logo

Like Bruce Parry (the intrepid explorer featured on the BBC), financial markets make a habit of taking emetics. In 1998, they overdosed on emerging markets; in 2001, tech stocks were the catalyst. Mortgage backed securities started the current purge and we are now in a period of necessary deleveraging.

In this climate, you don't need to be an underperformer to find yourself without an employer. You don't need to be neurotic to worry about whether your job will still exist come the summer. And you do need to keep an eye on what's out there, or might be out there, just in case.

Where the opportunities are

Flexibility is key. Structured credit headcount has been decimated and banks have disappeared or merged. That doesn't mean there will never be jobs in the financial sector again. It does mean there are fewer opportunities available at the moment. And it also means that the jobs on offer are different to those that have gone.

Every week, our editorial staff flag sectors and industry areas both inside and outside financial services which are looking for finance expertise.

You can read their up-to-date recommendations on the news and advice area of the site, which is updated daily. Alternatively, if you're interested in reading about jobs in areas which haven't yet been covered, contact the editorial team at <a href="" and they may be able to write something on that subject.

At the start of 2009, we expect hiring to remain relatively strong in several areas of financial services over the next twelve months (You can read our detailed predictions here). They include -

·Compliance and regulation Look at the FSA, the IMF, the IFC and banks' own compliance teams

·Equity sales and research Margins are under pressure, but banks like Macquarie and Barclays Capital are still hiring in cash equities.

·Hedge fund restructuring Organisations like Alternative Merchant Banking are being set up to facilitate consolidation in the hedge fund sector. FIG bankers and hedge fund analysts are likely to be in demand as a result.

·Restructuring and distressed debt Carnage on the British high street is creating enormous amounts of work for restructuring experts. Distressed debt funds like Harbour Capital were formed at the end of 2008 to make the most of an expected surge in corporate defaults.

·Private banking/wealth management Private banking recruitment remained relatively buoyant in 2008. Banks like Credit Suisse and Swiss-based EFG International are expected to keep hiring in 2009.

Equally, a growing number of former bankers are looking at employers outside the financial servcies sector, including charities, the government, the defence sector, the health sector, or manufacturing.

If you're out of the market

Thousands of people have already been impacted by banking layoffs. When Winston Churchill lost the 1945 election, his wife apparently remarked that it might be a blessing in disguise. "At the moment, it seems quite effectively disguised," he's said to have replied.

If you're out of the market, research suggests you'll start by feeling shock, denial, frustration and depression in that order. But things will get better. Being out of the market can bring willingness to experiment with new career options, acceptance of the situation, and a whole new existence.

If you're already working in financial services, and you want to monitor the hiring landscape, we're here to help. If you're out of the market and want to get back in, we're here to help. And if you want to apply your considerable talents to something different, we have advice on where to begin.