JP Morgan: anyone want a banker?

JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon is trying to find a job for some of the Bear Stearns execs he's about to fire...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The JP Morgan boss has apparently started writing to all his clients, rivals and suppliers asking them to take some of the Bear Stearns bankers off his hands, according to the FT. Dimon’s personal intervention is intended to secure alternative jobs for some of the 5,000 or so who are likely to get the chop following JP Morgan’s cut-price takeover of the ailing Bear in March.

And his campaign is not restricted to a frantic bout of letter-writing. He’s apparently also tasked his chief admin officer with compiling a database of 3,000 vacancies in the financial sector, which he can then wave enticingly in front of all of those disgruntled traders who would otherwise have to trek down to their local Wal-Mart for a job.

It’s a fairly unprecedented move in the banking industry, which is hardly renowned for its thoughtful and enlightened HR efforts. Generally speaking it can’t hire fast enough in the good times, and fires people without a second thought when the tide turns. And normally those who choose to leave (or are encouraged to do so) get escorted out of the front door faster than a sub-prime mortgage broker fleeing his local trailer park.

Then again, Dimon has a vested interest in making this process as painless as possible for the departing staff. If he can find jobs for even half of those 5,000 people, he might win over a few critics of the deal both inside and outside the bank (he’s been criticised for snapping up Bear on the cheap). What’s more, it’ll cost a fortune to make all these people redundant, so he might even save himself a bit of money. Politically, it’s a sensible move.

However, we’re not entirely sure how his clients will react. After all, JP Morgan is only touting these people around because they’re not among the 6,000 staff it’s planning to retain – so it remains to be seen whether people will happy to snap up Dimon’s cast-offs. Some may also be suspicious that they’re being roped into what’s effectively a big publicity stunt. And we’re also sceptical that it’ll make much difference – his rivals will probably have tried to pinch the top talent already, and are unlikely to have waited for Dimon’s go-ahead before doing so.

Still, whatever the motives and whatever the outcome, it’s good news for those 5,000 Bear bankers. If all the banks had a similarly progressive attitude to HR, it might even change the industry’s macho culture...

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