What To Do When There Are Rumblings In The Street

What to do you do when there are rumblings in the streets of firms are thinking about a RIF?

Anyone who has been a student of the industry of public finance for years can feel it.  Issuance is down, interest rates are rising, and the FED is still increasing interest rates which makes it more expensive for borrowing.  Under economic monetary planning, traditionally that makes it more expensive to borrow whether you are a consumer, an organization, or in our case a municipality or a conduit issuer.  Deals are being postponed because they are not making economic sense.  Well, you get my drift.  What does this all translate to?  Rumblings in the street that there may be more reductions in force coming. What happens when firms are thinking about a RIF?

What Do You Do If Firms Are Thinking About A RIF?

Well, if you are at a bulge bracket firm, I would be more concerned than if you are a non-bulge bracket firm.  Secondly, if you are a producing banker, the concern should be much less for you than if you are just relying on a business card to get deals.  All this is too negative, so let’s shift our viewpoint and make this positive.  If you think firms are thinking about a RIF, it’s time to react.  However, it’s time to react intelligently rather than respond with a knee-jerk reaction to any pending news.

Being Proactive

First, if you think you are subject to being RIF’d, get way ahead of the curve.  What does that mean?  It means exactly that. Become proactive in looking for your next position before you are one of the potential masses that will be looking for a new position when and if the next wave of reductions occurs.  Look at yourself from the perspective of a new employee and what you have to offer now that you are still gainfully employed.  What will motivate a new employer to want to hire you now rather than waiting to start interviewing and getting your “house in order”?  One firm may think is a redundancy, another firm may welcome with open arms.  A reduction in force in one place is a major opportunity in another place.  Whether or not firms are thinking about a RIF, you have a job to do. Your job is now to find the firm that would be looking for your expertise.

What Teams Give You If Firms Are Thinking About A RIF

Secondly, team up with others that may be in that position down the road.  This is something that most individuals that are subject to a RIF’d don’t necessarily think about.  You’ll want to consider all the factors when you get rumblings if firms are thinking about a RIF.  Remember teams are always wanted in our industry.  The reason why? Because firms are reluctant to open up new offices with just one individual; however, if groups of people want to work together and open a new office, that is always appealing.  Especially now with groups that are very niche-oriented.  Individuals that are generalists are not as much in demand as specialists.  Why is this important for you to know? The reason is if you are a generalist that may be subject to a RIF, teaming up with a specialist will make you more desirable as a group rather than just you as an individual.

If & When To Make A Move…

Rumblings in the street are just that: rumbling.  They are not firings, so become proactive in your business development.  Firms will not let you go if you are actively pursuing new business.  Firms will be more engaged with you if you are not relying on your firm’s business card but are creating new opportunities. Also, the time to make a move (as I have continuously stated) is when you are gainfully employed.  You are worth more to a competitor when they think you are wanted by other firms or valued higher at your current firm.  People always naturally want what they cannot have. If there is a possibility they can get that coveted prize, they are going to pay more.  So, if you think your firm may be subject to a RIF because of the above or your firm will be subject to a knee-jerk reaction because other firms are thinking about a RIF, now is the time to act and react proactively in your search. Do not sit on the sideline and wait for the next round of reductions.  Lastly, if you are in the final stage of interviewing, get the firm to make an offer sooner rather than later.  If the tide does change they may not be able to make you the same offer three or six months from now.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Harlan publishes a blog every Thursday here. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.