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04/16/2014

Six Signs You Have to Quit Your Banking Job in the Next Six Months


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Your bonus is (probably) in the bank. Should you stay? Should you go? Are you still ‘learning in your job’? Are you still climbing the corporate edifice? How can you determine, quickly, easily and with minimal sentiment that it’s time to move on? Banking headhunters volunteer the following six leading indicators.

1.  Your bonus was zero. 

In theory, you can ignore your zero bonus and hang on in your job as a zombie. In reality, this is a bad plan.

“If you get a zero bonus, you should leave,” says Michael Karp, chief executive of Options Group. “It’s a clear indication that you’re at the bottom of the class. The more consistently you get a zero, the harder it will be for your to move.

“When you’ve been zeroed, you need to move to a new firm for base only,” adds Karp. “That way you’ll be able to get back into the bonus pool.”

2. Your bonus was lower than your peers even though you had a good year.  

This is a question of fairness. “If you’re not compensated for what you’re producing and you’re not compensated equally with your peers, you need to go,” says Zaheer Ebrahim at search firm Kennedy Group.

3. When the bank has hired someone else to do your job and moved you sideways into a strange new role created just for you.

This happens a lot in banking, says Ebrahim. “Banks will quite often find someone whom they think is better equipped to do your job,” he says. “They know they can’t make you redundant if you’ve been performing well, so they will move you sideways into an administrative COO position or create a new role for you. After that, it’s quite usual for them to get rid of you 12 to 18 months later.”

4. When you are training your lower cost replacement. 

“You absolutely need to change jobs when the work of your division is being outsourced to some guys from India and they come to London and sit next to you for a few months,” says Tom Stoddart, director at Eximius Finance. “When you’re training a lower cost version of yourself, your days are numbered,” he adds.

5. When the bank has indicated that it’s not committed to your business area.

Think RBS equities, circa January 2012.

6. When money is important to you and moving on is the only way you’re ever going to get more.  

Lastly, headhunters point out that in these days of diminished bonuses, salaries have become more important. Unfortunately, the only way of securing a salary increase is to gain a promotion and a bigger job title. However, internal promotions are hard to come by. Goldman Sachs is now making MDs every two years instead of annually. If you’re languishing at VP level, moving externally for a bigger job title may be opportune.

–Sarah Butcher

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