James Moore: Expect frightened bankers' behaviour to get worse as their job options dwindle

Outlook: The next few weeks promise to be fraught ones in the human resources departments of the City's investment banks. Now that the bonus season is over, and the heated public debate has died down a bit, it's time to swing the axe. This firing season, however, promises to be particularly difficult thanks to the hand grenade London-based Greg Smith left for Goldman Sachs when he managed to escape without signing one of its blood-curdling confidentiality agreements and was therefore able to make his resignation letter public.

If the bank's HR people fail to secure the signatures of the victims of this year's cull on the relevant pieces of paper they will be joining the luckless thousands. The same will be true at Goldman's rivals, where the message will be: "Don't let it happen here."

Goldmans may be getting all the flack right now but it is naive to think that it is the only bank which has unhappy employees. And which has skeletons in the closet for those employees to rattle on their way out.

Many commentators have scratched their heads at Mr Smith's actions. Surely he must have killed any chances of a future in finance employment? Well, duh. The fact is they may have been dead even had he not gone public so spectacularly.

Investment banks are having to face up to some harsh realities. One of those is the fact that the reduced volumes in last year's third quarter were no aberration. The slow pick-up in hiring post the financial crisis may have to go into reverse. If you get kicked out of one investment bank there is now only the slimmest of chances that you will be able to trot along to another one. Seeing this, Mr Smith has set himself up for a book deal.

We tend to see avarice as the driving force behind investment banks. They are certainly at pains to point out what a powerful motivator it can be when designing the executive remuneration packages that are held up to public scrutiny.

But there is another, perhaps equally powerful, force governing the way investment bankers behave: fear. There are now perhaps only a relatively small number of rainmakers who won't be thinking "there but for the grace of God" as they watch the security men placing their newly departed colleagues' personal belongings into clear plastic bags. With ever more searching revenue targets, fewer people to help out with the heavy lifting, and a smaller pool from which next year's cull will be made, the motto of the banker accustomed to the high life and with a mortgage to match will be "by any means necessary". If the client makes money, great. If not, c'est la vie.

The sort of behaviour Mr Smith claims to have witnessed, with clients allegedly treated with contempt and dismissed as "muppets", is going to become more, not less, likely after this year's culls.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Finance Assistant - Part time - 9 month FTC

£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...

Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Market Risk Manager - Investment Banking - Mandarin Speaker

£45,000 - £65,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is a well-known APAC Corporate and...

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain