More than 1,000 unemployed bankers could flood market

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Jul 09, 1998

The mergers of Uhispank and Tallinna Pank, Hansapank and Hoiupank and the liquidation of Maapank may dump more than 1,000 unemployed banking specialists on the market by the end of the year. Continuing their careers in the Estonian banking sector is unlikely.
The number of excessive employees is not settled. It will be discussed after the merger processes are over. In the case of Maapank, the employment contracts are not finished yet, but the employees are looking for other jobs.
Many companies have applied to the banks themselves and have asked for potential employees for their companies. In many cases, the banks have turned to the possible companies themselves in order to find new jobs for their employees.
In Hansapank for example, the employees are being given extra training at their own training center.
�Hansapank already had this experience when it had to release 130 people. The bank called to the companies and offered their personnel,� said the new personnel manager of the merging Hansapank and Hoiupank, Age Aasma.
This time the number of people released from the Hansapank and Hoiupank Group neared 900, and about 20 percent of 4,355 people may be released yet. �The predicted 20 percent is not an exaggeration,� said Aasma.
�This is taking place step by step and the final version is not ready,� said the Hoiupank Personnel Manager Eva Rudi.
�The decisions are made starting from the upper levels. First the managers of the divisions will be briefed and they will decide about their subordinates. The subordinates will then be approved by the commission,� said Rudi.
The selection will be made according to professional abilities. �There are contests and interviews, and the selection is made along the equality principles,� said Aasma from Hansapank. �People are examined one by one and the examining commission consists of an equal number of members from the merging banks.�
The vacant jobs are then advertised in the banks� internal newspapers. This selection is mostly done in the upper levels, where there are often two specialists vying for one position.
�Uhispank used to say that it wanted to employ everybody,� said a banking specialist from Tallinna Pank, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
�We have already had several leaving parties. Most of the executive staff has resigned. They suffer the most, because they might not get the same job in a merging bank. An executive might not get the position of executive in the new bank.� At Tallinna Pank, for example, no one has been released yet.
�But it seems to me that the merging banks will decide who leaves and who stays,� the Tallinna Pank specialist said.
Most tellers are not worried about their futures in the merging banks. The different branches still have their clients and the bank needs the same amount of branches.
For tellers, irritation comes in the form of increased electronic services, which constantly threaten to undermine their positions.
Kaire Sutt, manager of the Fontes human research company, said hordes of bankers from Tallinna, Houipank, Hansapank and Maapank have already contacted her for help in finding a new job, should it become necessary. �For middle management, finding a new job should not be a problem but for an employee who has specialized in certain operations, it might turn into a problem,� said Sutt. �It is difficult to predict what the supply of jobs will be.�
The employment contracts of less than 500 employees of Maapank are not finished but the bankruptcy registrar will decide whether they�ll keep their jobs in the near future.
On the brighter side, bankers are no longer among the highest paid employees in Estonia, so finding new jobs with similar salaries shouldn�t be too difficult, Sutt said.
�The salaries in the merging bank depend on the employee. There are employment tests and nobody�s salary is going to rise or decline before that,� said Aasma from Hansapank.
Bankers have thus far remained reserved, neither expressing excessive optimism or pessimism about the mergers. Some search for jobs. All simply await final decisions.