Hardly a day goes by without another large firm announcing with suitable solemnity that revenues are simply not there anymore, and that they have no choice but to cut jobs.
Here's the latest from our Highly Placed Professional:
You see that’s the easiest way out for investment banks - cutting jobs shuts the shareholders up - and increasingly in this highly regulated and political environment - it shuts the politicians up too. Let’s make no bones about it, however, no-one would be slashing their workforce unless there was a real problem.
Not for the first time in recent banking history, it’s a case of 'be careful what you wish for'. We wanted financial stability after the West - and then Europe - slipped perilously close to the abyss. But the upshot of all the increased regulation, political influence and bigger capital requirements is that most business now takes place on a one-off basis in new issue markets, and the combination of electronic trading platforms and far less secondary market action means there is far less flow in securities. Since this is what we all trade for the most part, it follows that revenues have declined too.
And all this takes a toll on the little guy in so many ways. Firstly, the day job is increasingly fraught as there's a lot less action. Just as a writer needs an audience, traders, sales and corporate finance professionals all need clients, people willing to do deals. Without them, you sit morbidly in a kind of no man’s land.
What’s worse, of course, is the constant rumour mongering and the feeling that you might be the next for the chop. You stare blankly at your screen wondering what your next move is - who to call, what to say. And all the time you keep hearing reports of cuts at other firms, or worse still - at your own. You also know that it’s becoming well-nigh impossible to find another job out there. And just to add to the misery, your annual bonus probably doesn’t add up to more than a hill of beans either now.
There’s one other twist of the knife - if you’ve become used to the money, bought a big house and maybe have a nice car, with kids at private school too, you'll be worried about losing your job all the more. The stakes have indeed become high.