HR leaders brace themsleves to tackle City crisis head on

City HR chiefs are rallying their troops to fight the biggest crisis to hit the financial sector in 79 years.

Senior practitioners insisted they were concentrating on getting the most from staff to help their firms through the meltdown.

Employers in the City were stunned last week when US investment bank Lehman Brothers went bust, and the UK’s leading mortgage lender HBOS was rescued by smaller rival LloydsTSB.

Thousands of workers across the financial sector fear for their jobs.

Noel Hadden, director of learning and development at investment giant Deutsche Bank, told Personnel Today: “From an HR perspective, when there is turmoil all around, it is easy to lose intensity and focus. Staff are hugely interested in what’s going on, and empathetic with friends at other banks.”

The firm’s share price almost halved to about 4,300p in the 12 months to 30 June this year as the global effects of the credit crunch continued to pummel financial institutions. It has since recovered and its shares have reached 6,000p.

“We have to stay focused on delivering value for our clients and on talent and retention. It is part of HR’s role to tell the Deutsche Bank story and why it is a good place to be,” Hadden added.

Nick Kemsley, director of resourcing and development at financial services giant Prudential, said of last week’s events: “It does give us a job as HR. We are not as exposed as many, as we predominantly have retirement products, and invested wisely.

“So far I have not seen concerns from staff. But the economic situation will hit us when people look to employers to help them with things such as rising fuel costs – perhaps people will be less interested in share schemes, for example, and more interested in flexible working.”

Last week’s crisis has been compared to the Great Depression of 1929 when UK unemployment doubled to 2.5 million in the wake of the US stock market crash.

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