Thursday, November 06, 2008

Redundancies in the City

Last week, I get a phone call from a guy who used to work for me, and who now works for a small European bank's London branch.

"Hi, is that GB," he starts.

"Yes, who's this?"

"It's W, remember me? I think I need some advice. They're making me redundant :-(!"

I'm always happy to give advice to guys who used to work for me, but in this case I decide that it would be better to discuss things face to face, so I agree to meet up with him after work. Later that day, I contact a trader I know who works for the same bank as W by sending him a message on Blooomberg, to try and find out a bit more about what's going on. I get a reply within a few minutes:

They're making about 1/3 of us redundant. Looks like they're moving the profitable businesses back to head office, but I'm still here for now, enjoying the easy markets ...

I guess that 'easy markets' means that there's very little going on in the market that this guy trades, which can't bode well for his future either.

After work, I meet W in a smart City wine bar. I order a decent bottle of red Burgundy, before sitting down with him to see whether there's anything useful that I can tell him.

"Apparently they did some kind of assessment," says W, "and worked out that I was the most expendable, because my work could be done by the other guys in the team :-(."

"Sorry to hear that," I reply, "but perhaps I can tell you one thing which might be of use. Ask for more redundancy money!"

W looks at me, slightly unsure of what I'm saying.

"There's always more money," I continue, "actually maybe there's not 'always more money' any more, with the credit crunch and so on, but in the past there was always more money in these situations so it doesn't hurt to ask :-)."

"Really?"

"Yeah, well in the old days banks always wanted to avoid scandals with disgruntled employees. They'd never put all their money on the table at the start of the redundancy process! However, success here is only down to your powers of persuasion. Make them think that you might cause trouble, even though I would strongly recommend that you don't, apart from asking for more money. The package will already be a lot more than the statutory minimum, so you'll have no grounds to demand anything. Just use all the best arguments you can as to why it's unfair, and why you need more money. Do you have a lot of financial commitments, for example, a big mortgage or anything?"

"Not a big one, but I've also got a few buy to let properties which could cause me a few problems if I can't rent them out to cover the mortgage payments. What about you anyway, is your job safe?"

"No, of course not!" I reply, playing down my own situation, "who knows what's going to happen ..."

"But you don't have a mortgage do you?"

"Actually I do now! I've split up with my partner, so I took out a mortgage on my house so that I could buy him somewhere to live."

I suddenly realise that I'd never said anything to W which would indicate that I'm gay, except for the sentence that I'd just uttered! I catch his eye briefly and I can tell that he noticed.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" I ask.

"Um, errr, well ... actually ..." he says, trying to find the words, "I guess I’m errr ... in a similar situation to y-you."

I'd always knew that W wasn't married, and that he didn't seem to have a girlfriend. But he doesn't seem very comfortable admitting the truth to me.

"I always thought that you could be gay :-)," I laugh, trying to put him at ease.

"Really," he says, "how come? D-did I give myself away??"

"Only by never talking about your private life," I say, "and because I don't really believe in asexuals these days, you had to be either a closet gay guy or a frustrated heterosexual! So let me ask the relevant question then, do you have a boyfriend?"

"Errr yes actually," replies W, starting to relax a bit, "a young polish guy that I met a few years ago. How old was your boyfriend by the way?"

"Just a couple of years younger than me. Why do you ask?"

"The guys that used to work for you all assumed that you were rich enough to have a cute young trophy boyfriend!" he says smiling now, "but in fact I guess it's my boyfriend who could be put in that category! He was only 20 years old when I met him a few years ago, so he's quite a bit younger than me. I suppose I'm a cradle snatcher!!"

"That's not at all my style!" I say, laughing at the thought of their discussions, "but why didn't you let any of us know about your situation, not even me?"

"Well," replies W weakly, "I guess I didn't want anyone to think that you hired me because we were both gay, or anything."

The poor guy doesn't seem very comfortable admitting his sexuality, even to me, so I let it go even though it's a pretty weak argument. We chat a bit more and I give him a bit more support in relation to his redundancy, and also in relation to being gay in the City. However, although he's a talented guy, I'm sure that there are lots of other talented guys who're being made redundant at the moment. So, unfortunately it may be a while before he gets to put some of that advice into practice.

8 comments:

A rebel all the way... said...

Trust me, some people ARE asexual. I am not completely out to the world, but I have no qualms in admitting I am bi (or so I think), and I hate the very prospect of sex. It sounds a tad retarded and weird, but it is true.

GB said...

Interesting Rebel, but you're only in your 20's right? If so, let's see if you feel the same way in 20 years time LOL!

GB xxx

Jake said...

Oh how my heart bleeds for the poor banker guy with his own property and a portfolio of buy to lets, being made redundant...

I somehow think he'll survive.

A rebel all the way... said...

Yes am 24, but look like 30+. Anyhow thats besides the point. But I guess I would still be the same even in the next 20yrs. :P (Or maybe this aversion to sex is just due to the fact that I haven't tasted blood yet...:)))

GB said...

Actually Jake, W's buy to lets are losing him money, so he might end up going bankrupt! But making those investments was his decision, so in that sense I agree that he doesn't need any sympathy.

Given that you're only 24 years old Rebel, I'm very sure that you'll feel differently about lots of things in 20 years time. You've probably got a lot of single friends at the moment, but they'll gradually all get partnered off, and you'll probably end up doing the same. So my best guess is that it won't take you 20 years to sort yourself out in terms of sex, it'll probably all be sorted by the time you're 30!

Take care, GB xxx

closetalk said...

it's always interesting to hear abt events like this in london... especially, since my brother is in the financial industry as well (though not in london) and i keep feeling worried about his job. oops.. was that too much information? *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Say 'you're making ME redundant because I'm gay, aren't you?'

Instant higher redundancy!

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