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Job losses begin as crunch leads to internal reshuffles

January 2009

Signs that the global financial crisis is starting to affect jobs in the responsible business world emerged last month as three large businesses – Eversheds, JPMorgan and Citigroup – shed key positions in the field.

Eversheds, one of the world’s largest law firms, deleted the post of its head of corporate responsibility, Steven Butts, while Citigroup restructured its Citi Investment Research unit, making analysts Mike Tyrrell and Natalie Davis redundant. JPMorgan disbanded its environmental, social and governance (ESG) service, leaving Claudia Kruse, its European ESG analyst, and two others in the US and Asia jobless.

Each business said the need for financial cuts in today’s climate was at least partly responsible.

Eversheds, which reported a four per cent drop in turnover for the first half of this financial year, has already cut jobs in the UK and recently began consultation on a possible second wave of redundancies that could affect 45 people.

Butts, who was based in Leeds, lost his job because the firm decided to move the corporate responsibility function into its diversity section, based in London. Caroline Wilson, previously head of diversity, has added CSR to her title. She told EP: ‘We’re combining CSR and diversity so that myself and one other person will be working on that area. The reason for the change was partly strategic, because we wanted CSR to be run from head office, but also because there were financial implications.’ Wilson said the CSR budget would probably be reduced next year.

At Citigroup, which intends to eliminate 52,000 jobs to cut costs, the respected SRI brokerage team at Citi Investment Research has been axed after the parent group’s recent $20billion (£13.3bn) bail-out by the US government.

The three-person unit, which recently won an award for being the best European SRI broker team, has been reduced to two, with senior analyst Meg Brown surviving.

A Citi insider told EP: ‘We’re moving from a bespoke service on SRI to a more integrated model whereby clients will get their research in this area from sector analysts, such as those who specialize in aviation or the energy sector. There’s no point in saying this has nothing to do with the financial crisis, but we do believe the new approach will be better for the client.’

At investment bank JPMorgan, which is expected to cut about 3000 jobs, or ten per cent of its global workforce, the in-house SRI research function is also to be ‘integrated’ with mainstream analyst activity during the next few months.

Penny Shepherd, Uksif’s chief executive, said: ‘This is not a statement about sustainability research. The long-term health of such research is very strong, but in the short term we’re seeing significant issues in the City.’




Global | Financial Crisis

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