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New year, new job – SocGen? Citi? Which bank …

Many of us start the new year looking for a new job, so I thought I’d dive into the wonderful website The Vault and see who’s hot and who’s not.

Now
I don’t know if you’ve ever explored The Vault, but it’s a good place
to get the low-down on prospective employers.  The reason it hit my
radar this week is that every month the editors select an employee’s
review of their firm that is the most helpful for prospective job
applicants.  They award it the "Employee Survey of the Month" award
and, last month, a risk analyst who has worked for five years in Paris
for Société Générale won with this review:

"It’s
a French bank, so clearly a lot of French people. But it’s not all
lily-white, there are a fair number of French minorities here, and a
surprising number of foreigners, more coming from other branch offices."

Mmmm … now I’m not casting aspersions but being ‘a French bank so clearly a lot of French people’ might put some folks off, but at least ‘there are a fair number of French minorities’ – Belgians – ‘and a suprising number of foreigners’ – Quebecians probably.

On dress code, our risk analyst gets a bit edgy:
"theoretically formal every day, doesn’t actually work that way. Kind
of like road traffic rules in Paris, you do what you can get away with,
with a strong benefit of practicality."

Woo-hoo … look at our analyst: ‘you do what you can get away with’!
Risky.  So, my Jake Shears’ Scissor Sisters sequin silver suit (try
saying that fast three times) might be a bit too out there, I guess?

Finally, on opportunities for advancement, the picture becomes clear:
"seniority counts here more than one might think it should. Meaning you
may not rise as rapidly as you like. On the other hand, there’s a lot
of lateral mobility within the organization."

What a shame, and there was I thinking ma grand plan pour l’aujourd’hui
might win me a role with this mighty Parisian-based banque, and then my
plan is scotched by the fact that I’d be living in dead man’s shoes
forever. 

Ah well, what about a mighty American bank, like Citi?

Uh-oh, first headline posted on 27th November: "Does anyone know where the cuts will be made?" is a bit off-putting.  The headline follows-on with this plea:

"Citi
grudgingly confirmed yesterday that they will be cutting people – this
was inevitable I suppose considering the tremedous losses due to SIVs
and Citi’s general inability to generate earnings.  Some estimates put
the layoffs at around 45,000. Has anyone been impacted by this already?
Which groups are going to get hit?"

I read on and ye gods, this is better than Facebook, as a whole load of weenies pop out the woodwork with comments like:

"There
will be many branch closings in the Retail Bank, including many of the
ones that recently opened.  You should also expect many cuts in the
credit card business as they are extremely bloated."

"i
have noticed its coming from sales and trading side from all desks.
anyone with a high salary is going. a few senior managers from back
office and middle office are going."

"Wouldn’t it be a trip if the people who actually do  something (besides dodging accountability) weren’t
the first people to go? If Citi cut the fat they’d pull through. Keep
the people that are responsible and do actual work, and a thin layer of
management, instead of this absurd top heavy model. I know a group that
has more MDs than Associates and VPs combined. Citi is choking on the
amount of senior management it has down its throat."

"It’s
official, Citi will be laying off at least 30,000 people. The layoffs
that already started will continue into the 1st quarter of 2008. It
wouldn’t suprise me if Citi will also be broken up."

Global Wealth Management will be sold or spun off in
"whatever transaction would give Citi the most cash because they
really, really need the cash considering the hit in 4Q will be about 19
Billion instead of the 8 – 11 billion they projected in November. In
any case, this is a mess that will not be cleaned up for a long time.
If Citi continues to take billion dollar hits to the balance sheet
every quarter, who knows what will happen."

Oh dear, prospects ain’t so good there then.   Mind you, we all knew as much back in April last year, when I blogged about "Chuckin’ out time" and now even Chuck has been chucked.

Guess I’ll have to come back to a nice British institution like HSBC (OK, so it’s not really British but near enough).

Well,
this looks better.  On the positive side, Vault tells me HSBC are good
for their "potential to move around globally", "above-average pay" and
"teamworking".   The workplace culture is a "balanced" one.  "People
know when it’s time to be serious and make money, and they also know
how to have fun when markets are dead at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon."

Insiders also call the firm "very friendly" and "innovative with
a focus on growth." "I feel lucky to have the job that I do, lucky to
be exposed to my work material and lucky that I have the opportunity to
make my start in the working world at this organization."

However,
one contact says there is "too much bureaucracy" and others say the
office buildings are old and "we are going through some rough spots".

Well, all in all, a few rough spots and bit of bureaucracy doesn’t seem so bad if you can become an over-paid globetrotter.

So, for all those wondering, here’s the link for HSBC’s careers

Meantime, I wonder whether I could get a job at Bear Stearns?  Oh dear …

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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