FOCUS - JOBS: I Was Told I Would Be a Victim of a `Cost Reduction Programme'
Cowley, Jason, The Independent (London, England)
It is late at the end of another anxious week of unease and redundancies in the City of London, and I am drinking with Clive Hibberd, lately of Merrill Lynch investment bank, in a smart champagne bar called The Altruist. The atmosphere is unusually sombre; there are no popping corks tonight and voices are lowered, almost conspiratorial. Last Monday, Merrill announced 80 redundancies; then, a few days later, 1,500 staff went from Morgan Stanley.
These figures may seem trivial in themselves but they are a sure sign of trouble ahead, indicators of a souring of mood and economic confidence. As Naomi Klein, author of the anti-globalisation polemic No Logo, has written: "It is easy to love the market in good times, but what happens when things go bad?" Things, as Mr Hibberd acknowledges, are bad in the City - and getting worse.
A dynamic computer maverick, Mr Hibberd was once indispensable to Merrill Lynch. Now, he was being told that he was anything but, and indications were that he might only be there for another month. In the event, he was already negotiating with another bank, having wearied of being a constant transatlantic commuter.
"When I went to speak to Merrill I was told I would be a victim of the `cost reduction programme'. I had found another great job anyway. And they said, well, that was that, I might as well go there and then. They black-bagged me. I wasn't allowed to send e-mails to friends. The emphasis was on my not sabotaging any of the computers or doing something vindictive. There was no trust. I feel bad about that, having worked there for six and a half excellent years. It's indicative of a culture of fear."
Mr Hibberd is 40, married with two young children, and lives in affluent seclusion in Cambridgeshire in a house he built himself. He asked to meet in The Altruist bar as, he said, "this business couldn't be less altruistic. People are in it for one thing only - money. If they pretend otherwise, they're lying".
He is candid, and self-aware enough to concede that he was certainly in this kind of work for nothing but the money; at one point, he says, he was the only …
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Publication information: Article title: FOCUS - JOBS: I Was Told I Would Be a Victim of a `Cost Reduction Programme'. Contributors: Cowley, Jason - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: April 29, 2001. Page number: 16. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.