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Merrill Lynch HSBC, the online share dealing and research platform for high-net-worth individuals, has fallen on hard times, with disappointing trading volumes. The banks involved will no doubt live to fight another day, but spare a thought for the 150 employees that the venture has made redundant. Not only have they lost their jobs, an attempt to give them career advice has added insult to injury.

After delivering the news that some of its staff would be leaving, Merrill Lynch HSBC hired a recruitment adviser to give them tips on finding a new job. You can't knock his enthusiasm. "Congratulations!" he said to the small number of ex-staff that attended the session. "You have just got the biggest promotion of your life. You are now the CEO of Me Plc!"

The adviser then handed out sample CVs, giving pointers on how best to demonstrate their skills. But these CVs were for PAs and chauffeurs, not bankers. Gems of knowledge from the adviser included writing your name at the top of the CV, rather than "curriculum vitae". One of the ex-employees says the session would have been more appropriate for "bank clerks from Leamington Spa".

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