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Opinion

Abigail with attitude: Cutbacks in the City and Bumi hits a bum note

As Fisher gets hot under the collar, many investment bankers are starting to shiver in their boots. A theme of this column for several years now has been that most big investment banks are vastly overstaffed and in denial about the need to cut jobs and costs. When UBS announced their newest ‘new strategy’ in November 2011 – a supposed response to the unauthorized Kwaku Adoboli trading loss – I criticized the bank on the grounds that the action was not drastic enough. I remember a conversation where I reiterated that view to a senior UBS banker. Although courteous, the senior banker obviously thought I was exaggerating and that the industry would continue to chug along with slightly diminished staffing and compensation levels. But now it seems the great train ride might indeed be over. An email crossed my desk recently and the author, a head-hunter, bemoaned the "lean pickings" in the fixed-income, commodity and currency world. "It all looks bleak," hunter wailed. He went on to speak about bonus pools being savaged by 30% to 80% this year and job cuts cascading into October. Hunter ended on an unhappy note: "For now, we are seeing very limited new hiring plans."

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