Most of the 34 people terminated at Alex. Brown Inc. are professional employees who should have little trouble finding other work, according to a source at the Baltimore investment firm.
"We have qualified people," the source said about the stock analysts and investment bankers who were told that yesterday was their last day at the venerable financial institution.
The terminations amounted to about 2 percent of Alex. Brown's 1,750-person national work force. About 1,000 of those workers are in Maryland. The action comes as investment banking and stock brokerage firm across the country are going through a severe downturn.
But unlike the blue collar workers who are laid off, the employees at Alex. Brown face better prospects. Many of then have Masters degrees in Business Administration from the country's top colleges. They also have the advantage of having worked for the widely respected Alex. Brown.
They are also helped with severance packages that include one or more months of pay, extension of medical and other benefits and the use of office space to look for another job, according to the source.
"They're doing a good job," the source said about Alex. Brown's efforts to ease the effects of the terminations.
Even the clerical and support staff, which makes up less than half of the affected people, may also find job-hunting easy since the firm hires top people, the source said.
While the source said the announcement came as a surprise, some of those terminated were philosophical about it. "People in this kind of business . . . realize that it is a volatile business and things like this happen," he said. "The thing that makes up for it is the pay is pretty good while you're here."
That pay can start at $40,000 to $60,000 for a new employee out of business school and can climb into the six figures for the more experienced employee, the source said.
The terminations were primarily among analysts, investment banking employees and their support personnel. There were also about three or four stock traders, according to A. B. Krongard, Alex. Brown's chief operating officer.
The terminations primarily affected people who specialized in consumer products, media and communications, banking, trucking and energy. The area hit the hardest was the energy staff, which deals with with oil and gas firms, Krongard said.
The cuts in the energy staff came even though that division had been very active in stock offerings in the last year.
About a month ago Alex. Brown reported a third quarter loss of $3.1 million, or 21 cents a share.