City banking woes prompt Robert Walters to diversify

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The Independent Online

A dramatic slump in the number of banking jobs in the City has sent annual profits at the recruitment firm Robert Walters crashing by half to £7.7m in an ominous sign for London's financial industry.

"It is still rather a bleak picture given the fact that within London, banking and financial services are a big chunk," its founder and chief executive, Robert Walters, has admitted.

The banking downturn was not confined to London. The group's global net fee income from banking fell by about a third to £20m, and Mr Walters has slashed the size of his team which covers global financial services by a fifth.

But London was especially badly hit, with net fee income from banking falling by nearly half.

"Banking hasn't died – it's simply resting," Mr Walters said, recalling how the market bounced back after the bubble burst in 2000.

Walters has been rushing to diversify, with 85 per cent of net fee income now coming from outside financial services.