Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy means most of its 25,000 remaining employees will soon be out of job without a substantial severance package, leaving them with little breathing room with which to search for a new job. Understandably, Lehman employees are dismayed, angry and anxious, asking themselves, What do I do now?
The answer is: several things.
Hitting up financial recruiters is an essential first step, and many insiders are well aware of this—reports this morning say headhunters’ phones are ringing off the hook. Indeed, recruiters know who’s looking for talent, and today, there are many financial firms hungry for the high-class talent coming out of Lehman . (They’re likely also hungry for Merrill Lynchtalent, given the firm’s agreement to be acquired by Bank of America for $44 billion).
Aside from headhunters, insiders should be contacting clients as well as colleagues at other big banks. Lehman’s name is one of the most prestigious on Wall Street, and several Lehman groups could be assets to other clients or competitors. It’s not unlikely that an entire group could be swallowed by a (former) competitor, or that a few of Lehman’s corporate clients will want some the bank’s insiders to perform related financial functions for them.
Employees might also consider becoming a big fish in a smaller pond, aiming their searches at some of the smaller investment banks on Wall Street, commonly called the middle market. These firms—such as Evercore Partners, Houlihan Lokey and Jefferies & Company—will likely win big with Lehman folding, gaining top bankers with top clients. Already, these smaller firms have done well in the midst of the credit crisis, picking up former Bear Stearns bankers as well as bankers at other firms who’ve been laid off since the crisis began.
Finally, a word of warning: Though certain groups at Lehman seem to be safe—Lehman Brothers Asset Management and its investment management subsidiary Neuberger Berman are said to be unaffected by the bankruptcy—investor uncertainty could result in money being pulled out of those units, so employees in these units should be testing the job market waters as well.
Derek Loosvelt is Vault.com’s global finance editor. He has a BS in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in creative writing from The New School. He is a writer and editor and has worked for Brill’s Content and Inside.com. Previously, he worked in investment banking at CIBC and Duff & Phelps.
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