Hit by cuts, bankers run from London's square mile

Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:42am EDT
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By Sarah White and Victoria Howley

LONDON (Reuters) - In a small French village, nestled deep in Languedoc-Roussillon wine country, Gary Langton is putting the final dabs of paint to his bed and breakfast before the first guests arrive.

It's the type of pet project many Britons dream of, though the opening of the restored 18th century silk farm, complete with heated swimming pool, is not without its stresses.

Less than 18 months ago, Langton, 58, faced an entirely different type of pressure as Italian bank UniCredit's global head of loan syndications and a top UK boss.

He is one of a growing group of London investment bankers either turning their backs on the industry for good, switching to smaller finance boutiques or setting up their own, put off by what some see as the greater demands and diminishing rewards of their jobs at big banks.

While recruitment specialists say the financial crisis has not dimmed the industry's allure for graduates, it's the fallout from 2008 and the wave of new regulation that is mainly frustrating those in senior ranks.

For Langton, it was the "scare management" post-crisis, and the pressure on staff to make money despite taking less risk, and with fewer people, that prompted his departure.

"There was a period of time when management teams were running around like headless chickens," he said, speaking by phone from his chambre d'hotes near the town of Uzes, surrounded by Roman ruins and some of the Mediterranean's most scenic wilderness.

"There were across the board decisions that everything had to be cut by 30 percent for example, rather than a strategic look at the business."   Continued...