Sunday, June 10, 2018

Yonder Lie FILTH*: London to Lose 62,000 Bankers

* Lest you think the IPE Zone has gone all NC-17 on you, I can explain the title. One of the things left behind by the Brits when Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese was, er, a lot of Brits. To this day, that great city of enterprise remains a destination for many expats seeking better fortunes elsewhere. Thus, my expatriate friends working in Hong Kong's financial services industry self-deprecatingly refer to themselves as FILTH--"Failed In London, Try Hong Kong." A famous study by Dutch anthropologist Geert Hofstede of a seemingly homogeneous group--managers at IBM--found that there were still distinct cultural differences even within that organization. So it is fortunate for FILTH that Hong Kong-based employers may offer them a second chance at employment. Call it a cultural thing, but even big international banks operating in Hong Kong do not subject their employees to the same binge and purge hiring patterns prevalent in the US and UK. Even in hypercompetitive HK, loyalty still means something.

It goes without saying that there may be a lot more FILTH plying their trade in the Far East soon. The process began when many had their bonuses reduced significantly, but now it's time to bid them adieu. The good folks at Reuters alert us to a study by the Centre of Economics and Business Research (CEBR) indicating that up to 62,000 financial sector jobs are going the way of the 5.25" floppy disk through 2009. With asset securitization, originate and distribute, and the rest of financialization's innovations going out of fashion, so too are the jobs associated with them. While these innovations have set the world reeling as of late, it's only human to feel sorry about London bankers' jobs disappearing. If there's any consolation for them, Hong Kong (as well as other places in the Far East) beckon:

The credit crunch will cost London 62,000 financial jobs in 2008 and 2009, wiping out the hiring gains of the past decade, a British economics consultancy group said in a report on Monday. The number of professionals in London's financial industry -- Europe's biggest -- will drop by 28,000 this year from the 2007 level and a further 34,000 jobs will go next year, said the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). Only 291,000 will work in the industry in 2009, it added.

"The chances for a strong bounce-back ... from 2010 onwards appear to be slim," CEBR said. It is unclear how many jobs have already been cut this year, a spokesman for CEBR said.

The worst-hit sector will be corporate finance, likely to slash more than half of its 15,000-strong workforce in the next two years. The derivatives business will be a close second, with employment shrinking by 46 percent over the same period. In investment banking, more than 10,000 jobs -- or almost one-sixth -- will disappear over this and next year.

CEBR's job estimates also include equities and bonds businesses, foreign exchange, fund management, insurance and professional services. Those still in work will be paid much smaller bonuses, with the 2008 London payout down 42 percent on last year, the consultancy said last week.

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