TRANCHED: Life after CDOs, Week 1

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Our new columnist, a CDO pro recently ejected from a European bank, reflects on the new reality of life minus job:

As my distinguished predecessor ends his 21-week tenure in charge of this column I would like to wish him well in his future pursuits and thank him for offering us all an up-close and personal view of life inside the credit crunch.

I can't say that I was surprised when human resources tapped me on the shoulder. Final confirmation that CDOs are now a global financial pariah came six months ago: when my mother started discussing the merits of re-packaging debt over Christmas dinner, I realised that 2008 could be a challenging year for the desk.

Nevertheless, I still can't quite believe that I didn't manage to dodge the bullet. In my 10 years in the City I have managed to sidestep Russia 98, dance past the dotcom bubble, and even escape Enron employment without so much as a scratch. However, whilst I watched the D in CDO morph from Debt to Disaster over the last 12 months, I stood like a rabbit trapped in headlights awaiting my fate.

I have signed my compromise agreement, handed back my Blackberry, and - like a government minister caught in flagrante with his secretary - accepted the offer to spend more time with the family.

For the moment, life is not too bad. Joblessness has advantages when the sun is shining and 'the family' has kept you awake for most of the night while it screams for food. Fortunately, we are not starving yet. Using my stolen HP calculator, I have done the maths on my payout and thanks to an impressive company loyalty premium, I have a year's equivalent pay.

With the wolf temporarily kept from the door, now might therefore be a chance for reinvention. The question is, as what?

The buyside seems the logical answer. As poacher turned gamekeeper, I could probably be very busy stomping over Offering Circulars asking questions that should have been asked when the grass was greener. The problem with this strategy is that every CDO/ABS professional who has felt the cold hand of HR on his or her shoulder over the past six months seems to have had precisely the same idea.

What else? The world outside investment banking seems about as foreign as Gordon Brown in America. Besides, I am of the opinion that the world of Smoothie manufacturing is crowded enough without me imposing myself on it as well.

Now that the dust has settled, I am therefore embarking on the process of getting my CV out there. To show willing I have even agreed to accept the offer to visit the 'transition consultants', retained no doubt at ludicrous expense by my former employer. I will report on the usefulness of that exercise next week.

In the meantime I fully intend to make the most of the current spell of good weather: volatility in the financial markets is nothing compared to that of an English summer.

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