Employees know risks in industry with little loyalty
THE stories coming out of UBS are, on the face of it, shocking. Yesterday, widespread reports detailed how staff in the bank's London office apparently found out they were fired when their ID card did not work on the way into the office.
Others are said to have arrived at their desk to find a letter waiting for them, telling them they were no longer needed.
Those that were culled were ushered into a waiting room where they were told they were being put on gardening leave while their positions were reviewed, and handed their belongings in a box or plastic bag. Most of the now former UBS staff retired to the nearest pub and promptly drowned their sorrows.
It's an awful experience for anyone to lose their job and, having worked in a big investment bank on cut-down day, I can assure you it's almost as bad even for those who are safe.
However, if the manner of the UBS firings was particularly brutal, investment banking is one industry where being sacked is unlikely to be held against you in your quest for future employment.
The big banks ramp up operations in good times, and then slash head count when the market turns. That means that, in a funny sort of way, getting the boot is almost part of the deal in the industry.
Employees, particularly senior staff and traders, know a cull will come eventually so there is little in the way of loyalty to the firm. Stories of a head trader moving firms and taking half his team with him are common in The City and Wall Street.
Many of those who were fired will shrug their shoulders, call a head hunter, and move on.
For back office staff however, things will not be so straightforward. They don't generate revenue, so are less valuable than traders. In this climate they will struggle to get work quickly.