'I work for Bear Stearns, although it doesn't feel like it anymore. In fact, we're all still trying to come to terms with the fact that there really is no such thing as Bear Stearns anymore.
The last few days have been something of a blur. Even now a lot of us are in denial - how could such a vibrant, fiercely independent firm with such a proud history have imploded so quickly ? Was there anything any of us could have done about it ? Did we, as some people say, actually deserve it and bring it all on ourselves ?
We were always vulnerable, being the smallest of the top US securities firms. But, even then, it took an unprecedented series of events to conspire together to result in our demise.
I joined Bear a few years back, having worked in the markets at a number of firms before then. It was only when I arrived at Bear, however, that I truly felt at home - it seemed to attract a number of Wall Street 'misfits' like me - men and women who somehow didn't quite fit in elsewhere, but who became inspired by the culture and the freedom we were given to go about our daily tasks. At Bear, we were allowed to be ourselves. We never had to worry about image, style or all that other nonsense. We just got on with our jobs, had a lot of fun and made a lot of money. We respected our colleagues, looked up to our bosses, and always remembered that our clients were King.
Many of us at Bear have been through mergers before. And most of us cared less about the new firm (and the old one, in fact) than we did about landing a job in the new organisation. It's different this time. Now we are dealing with a bereavement - and it hurts all the more that we didn't even go down fighting.
Of course, there's a lot of anger out there. Although most of us are reconciled to losing our jobs, it's our pride that's really hurt. For many of us, something more than our jobs have been taken away. A lot of us don't want to work for JPMorgan - and that's nothing personal against Jamie Dimon and his team (Although their presence in our building and around our canteen and trading areas has irked, we know we can't blame them for what happened. And, to be fair, they are trying hard not to treat us like the vanquished). Many of us were hoping that a rival bidder would emerge - perhaps a smaller firm much in the same mold as Bear. Some of us even fantasized that we would be able to buy the firm ourselves and start again. In the end, however, with JPMorgan raising its bid to $10-a-share, the deal is all but done.
Although it's good to hear Jamie Dimon talk about retention awards, and it's clear that he really does recognise that Bear's main assets are its people, many of us will, in the end, vote with our feet - it's interesting that some at JPMorgan don't seem to appreciate that THIS vote is just as important as the shareholder vote that is still required to ratify the purchase of our firm. We will, however, leave Bear with no ill-will to those who moved so quickly to seize their opportunity to acquire something special. And we'll wish those who decide to stay 'the best of luck'. But we'll also hope that somewhere, deep inside the bowels of an enlarged JPMorgan, some pockets of Bear Stearns will endure and thrive.
As for me, I'm at the tail-end of my Wall Street career anyway. And I'm lucky enough to have some cash behind me (not all my net worth was invested in the firm). So I'm going to call it a day. But I'll still leave with a heavy heart, and believe that I'll always be scarred by our quick and somewhat ignoble end. A lot of us will sure miss the old place'.