Is my banking job safe? Lessons from the last crash.

I remember asking myself the exact same question during the last financial crash back in 2008/9. I was still relatively new in the world of banking, so the crisis was a real shock. My colleagues and I spent whole afternoon debating who would lose their jobs first which was further fuelled by an unhealthy addiction to every news article and report available. I guess this was our way of trying to make sense of the events that were unfolding.

I have a vivid recollection of our then business head standing up on his desk at the end of each working day and telling us that he did not know what the next would bring and we should remain focused on servicing and supporting our clients like we have always done. Looking across at the other office blocks you could see this whole ritual being played out at each bank, teams huddled together for their daily updates.

Being based in Canary Wharf it was hard seeing the ex-Lehman Brothers bankers walking around with brown boxes, some looking completely shell shocked. Worse still our direct neighbours were Bearn Stern – when their lights went out, it was permanent.

The reality is none of know what is going to happen, this may largely depend on how fit your bank is and therefore how well they can weather this current storm. In most cases all external hiring has been frozen, those banks who had planned cost reductions may need to accelerate this which now include additional head-count reductions.

There has also been a lot of talk about working from home becoming the new ‘norm’ which has brought into question the need for fancy offices in prestigious locations.

This of course is all speculation and like in all cases we will just have to wait and see what happens next. I really do not know what the future holds for our sector but what I can do is share a few tips that helped me navigate a worrying time in my professional life.

1. Keep on doing the right things, it is a time of high anxiety but do not let that distract you from your work. Make sure you hit deadlines and do not allow your work to build up. For those of you in coverage roles, keep in regular contact with your clients and support them – this will count for a lot.

2. Support your colleagues if you have any spare capacity help your team. Keep in regular contact with them via emails or phone calls. It is a great time to showcase your leadership and organisational skills.

3. Stop asking your line manager if your job is safe. I know this is a legitimate question but now is not the time to harass your boss, trust me it will not go down well. Not only will it be viewed as selfish, but it will also say that you are not a team player.

4. Your line manager will be under immense amounts of pressure. In most cases they will be involved in daily conference calls with senior management which will inevitably take them away from some of their day-to-day work. Here is where you can step in and offer to take on some of those responsibilities where it is appropriate for you to do so.

5. Do not become the voice of doom and gloom on your team. There is more than enough bad news doing the rounds, the last thing your team needs is you reminding them of this at every opportunity. A constant stream of negativity does not go down well and soon becomes irritating.

6. If things are a bit slow for you, this is a great opportunity to clear any back log you may built up have of administrative tasks such as KYC reviews etc. Just get on and do it, when things do go back to some form of normal you will have a clear runway to get going quickly with new work.

7. Seek out experienced colleagues, ask them for their advice and guidance what they have to say may help you navigate this current crisis.

8. Keep on top of group communications, join the ‘Town Hall’ calls your senior leadership will hold regularly. You do not want to find your self on the outside or be the last to know of any strategic changes being implemented. Always remain agile and prepare yourself for change or taking on any new duties that previously sat elsewhere.

9. Stay positive, this may seem obvious but at time this may be the hardest challenge you face. Do not forget to look after yourself and keep healthy – this is super important.

Written by Sanu – Founder, CheekyLittleCareers.com