Consultants cash in on redundancy

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The Independent Online
"THINGS ARE hotting up," said Jo Bond, the communications director of Coutts Consulting Group, Europe's largest career management consultancy. Jason Garner, of Robert Walters, agreed. "We're being kept fully occupied," he said.

As the investment bank Merrill Lynch confirmed it would be cutting 400 jobs, outplacement consultancies such as Coutts, Robert Walters and Sanders and Sidney were gearing up for future City redundancies.

For whether traders decide to go back to the banks or out to run wine bars, the job of these consultancies, hired by the City banks, is to help workers back into employment through counselling, assisting with updating CVs and interview techniques, and encouraging people to realise what they really want to do next - even pursue dreams.

City jobs are well paid to compensate for their constant insecurity, so for the most senior they may want to get out of the City altogether.

"Some people are so independently wealthy that they don't need to work and they retire to the country and enjoy themselves taking up gardening or DIY," says Mr Garner.

"If they are professionals, lawyers, accountants there is always demand for them if they are good-quality people," he added. "And in other banks, 50 per cent are still hiring, particularly in some areas such as risk management."

The ones who are really hit hard are the salesmen and the traders, who have specialised skills and fewer openings available. Here speed is of the essence. Most consultancies say that it takes bankers on average three months to get back into another City firm although it is easier to find a job the more junior you are.

But while Mr Garner thinks that bankers must make their way back within a year, Bruce Page, the managing director of DLA, thinks that it may be as short as six months before contacts and knowledge start to deteriorate. However the actor's euphemism of "resting" between jobs is common. "You do hear of people becoming waiters or mechanics or barmen although I don't know any," said Mr Garner. "Other people do DIY and gardening."

Going travelling is also particularly popular. "Travelling is very acceptable whatever stage of your life," said Ms Bond. "But if you just want to potter around doing a bit of DIY you have to package it right. Tell people you're involved in a major construction project, redesigning your house. If they think you're just around looking at the daisies then you won't get on so well."

But many decide to go even further and completely change the direction of their life after redundancy. "A number of people will have been expecting this and planned for it and saved," said Frances Cook, the managing director of Sanders and Sidney.

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