'Resigned to the fact'.
America's overall employment picture may be improving, but that's not the case for some of the highest paying positions on Wall Street before the financial crisis.
Those high-voltage stress-inducing jobs that brought in big money on the Street have essentially become relics of the past, eight years after the Great Recession helped wipe them out.
Executive recruiter Chad Dean, who specializes in finding candidates to fill both buy-side and sell-side positions, had a front row seat to the carnage.
"The most significant change is the massive reduction of employment on Wall Street, especially in the front office. (Proprietary) trading is gone. Most fixed income desks have shrunk," said Dean, who's managing partner of Integrated Management Resources. "I played a small part in the financial crisis by placing ( collateralized debt offering ) structurers. They were in such high demand that they were constantly being poached by other firms by bidding up their compensation."
The CDO structurers, who made on average $500,000 a year, were among the most despised for the role they held in the crisis.
They were knee-deep in subprime loans — selling the often-bad loans to pension funds, hedge funds, regional banks and other buyers. Some also negotiated with rating agencies to make sure their CDOs would receive an investment grade rating.
Prop traders, who traded stocks, bonds, currencies and other financial instruments with their firm's own money, died out when U.S. banks got subjected to the Volcker Rule , according to Dean. It prevented banks from making certain kinds of speculative investments.
The ranks of Treasury bond salespeople have also been dwindling since 2010 because of the widespread use and efficiency of electronic trading platforms, he added.
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More than 413,000 people who worked in the financial services sector were laid off between 2007 and 2008, according to executive placement firm Challenger, Grey & Christmas.
And the fallout may not be over.
The surge of robo–advisors is now lessening the need for wealth management brokers, bill and account collectors, bookkeeping, payroll and time–keeping clerks, and bank tellers.
Robo–advisors, which give low-cost, automated advice online, often target millennial, tech–savvy investors. But there are indications older generations are already adopting these services, too. Half of all banking customers say they would be interested in adopting robo-advisory services, according to a June survey by A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm.
It's not all bleak. Some spots in the sector are expected to expand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, business and financial operations jobs are expected to grow by 8.4 percent between 2014 and 2024.
So, who's qualified for these jobs? Not the vast number of people who got laid off nearly a decade ago.
"Those that played the game for too long were finally let go from their positions [but] were not surprised when I told them there was nothing," Dean added. "They were more resigned to the fact."