There’s been a lot of noise about job cuts in the last few weeks, but so far very little action.
Up until now, of course, firms have stayed their hand – hoping that things will pick up so that they can justify carrying what, at present, generally look like bloated payrolls (given revenue achievements and prospects).
In truth, no-one wants to be the first firm to let go large numbers of people. Many of us still remember the harsh lesson learned by Merrill Lynch in late 1998, when hedge fund Long Term Capital Management imploded following the Russian crisis. The markets seized up (as they tend to do in times of panic), and Merrill swiftly and aggressively cut headcount in its global fixed income business. As it happened, the crisis was short-lived, and things mostly returned to normal within 6-8 weeks. In the meantime, Merrill had decimated its fixed income franchise and it tooks years to rebuild, leaving the firm’s rivals with a clear run at making a lot of money over the next few years.
But right now, things don’t look like picking up anytime soon (especially as we are now heading into the summer, and the third-quarter is generally the quietest of the year in terms of business volumes), and it’s surely only a matter of time before more meaningful layoffs start. And first up could be Credit Suisse.
Reuters points out that Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung reported Wednesday that, according to its sources, Credit Suisse is set to cut several hundred positions, especially in the US. Jobs in equity trading are said to be the most vulnerable.
A spokesperson for Credit Suisse said: ‘We continue to be proactive about monitoring the size of our business relative to client opportunities and market conditions. This involves both shifting resources to growth areas and adjusting capacity to meet client needs and to manage costs across the business’.