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Opinion

I’m not a number, I’m unemployed

Investment banks have resorted to classifying their staff as nothing more than numbers to simplify redundancies.


It could be a scene from cult TV series The Prisoner where Patrick McGoohan asks his persecutor: "Who is number one?" only to be told: "You are number six." His reply: "I am not a number... I am a free man." is met simply with mocking laughter.


There are three types. First is the "1,2,3" classification. The majority are classed as "2" - good at their jobs, while "1" stands for excellent. But if you're a "3", you're in trouble.


While JPMorgan apparently uses this method, ABN Amro numbers are one to five: number one or two being a sure way of ensuring you're next out of the door. Even a mediocre three requires a productivity rate of 10% to 15% above average. Then there's Goldman where numbers range from one to 10, with one to three first to go.


Banks only admit in private that they use this dehumanizing classification to weed out staff. One banker says: "Yeah, we use them but we're not supposed to talk about them. We got the idea from management consultants, of course."





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