Banking crises: no turning back

“The Federal Reserve allowing Lehman Brothers to go into liquidation sends a strong message to the industry,” says Bawany, who completed an MBO of London-based Contact Recruitment in 2003 and now employs 95 staff.

“Banks need to be accountable for their actions. Over the past few years, too many bankers have made unsound financial decisions for the bank’s gain and, ultimately, for their own in the form of bonuses.

“Lehman’s demise was very sad. To see the downfall of any institution with a 158-year history is tragic. Nearly 5,000 people in London have been left to fend for themselves and seek alternative employment. Many will re-house themselves within other banks while others will see this as the opportunity to set up their own boutique-style advisory firms.

"Unfortunately, I suspect this will probably only account for three-fifths of the company. The remainder will either take time out, pursue other interests or possibly even retire.”

Bawany says he still has confidence in the financial system but reckons the banking landscape will change beyond recognition in the coming years. “There will be more regulation and control. Decisions will be based on what is known and not what bankers think they know.

He expects to see an increased demand for people with compliance skills, as banks begin to rebuild their balance sheets and gain investor confidence. “It won’t be a speedy recovery. We will probably bump along the bottom, dipping in and out of negative growth quarters during 2009.

“But we need to go through this. Finally, common sense might return to investment decisions.”

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