Will code for food: IT workers face the axe yet again


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The wave of layoffs on Wall Street rolls on and once again a venerable firm is shedding IT jobs to cut costs. This week, global giant Citigroup announced plans to axe 2,600 Operations and Information Technology jobs before Christmas.

If there is any solace in this bad news, it's that the soon-to-be former Citi IT workers are not alone. In October, UBS announced plans to eliminate 2,000 to 4,000 investment banking jobs amid rumors that even more cuts are poised to occur in the coming months. Media reports said that 900 IT workers would be losing their jobs.

Even though we are four years away from the mortgage meltdown of 2008, when Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers collapsed and forced the mergers of Wachovia into Well Fargo and Merrill Lynch in Bank of NY, the downsizings keep coming. And IT, the source i of technology innovation, is not immune to these cuts.

According to Reuters, "Even before the Citigroup move, major banks had announced some 160,000 job cuts since early last year, according to a Reuters analysis in November. Among the largest: Bank of America in September 2011 announced 30,000 layoffs as part of a plan to reduce annual expenses by $8 billion. That bank is also closing or selling 750 branches."

"In October, Swiss bank UBS unveiled plans to fire 10,000 staff and wind down its fixed income business."

"Citigroup has been announcing job cuts and expense reductions for years. In April 2007 it announced 17,000 job cuts, meant to help save $4.6 billion of annual expenses by 2009.In November 2008, as the financial crisis was in full flush, (Citigroup CEO Vikram) Pandit announced plans to cut more than 50,000 jobs. In December 2011, Pandit said the bank was cutting 4,500 positions, and said he aimed to cut costs by 3 percent to 5 percent annually."

This begs the question: When will this bleeding stop? When are investment firms going to stop cutting fat and begin to cut muscle?

It will be interesting to see that if and when the recovery comes will the Wall Street firms have the manpower and the expertise for the next great financial IT project.

-Phil Albinus, Editor, FierceFinanceIT