Hiring Continues, But Slows, in Boston

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State Street Corp. and Fidelity Investments, two of the biggest financial employers in Boston, are continuing to hire even as their counterparts in Wall Street lay off tens of thousands.

Although statements by the two companies may offer some optimism for job hunters worried about how the economy is impacting New England financial firms, area companies aren't hiring at the rates they did during the recent boom market. The non-profit New England Economic Partnership estimates a loss of about 5,000 financial services jobs in the region by the end of 2009.

"We expect the financial sector hiring will slow down and that there will be a loss of finance jobs in the region," says Ross Gittell, professor of management at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore School of Business and Economics, in an e-mail.

Shadowing Expenses, Even As They Hire

JPMorgan Chase & Co. continues to hire for its expanding operations in Boston. Wellington Management and BlackRock Inc. also are posting openings in the area. However, even companies that are hiring are keeping a close eye on their bottom lines.

For example, State Street added about 400 workers in the Boston area earlier this year and reportedly plans to hire more. (A company spokesman declined to provide specifics of the move, which was reported by the Boston Globe.) It's also contemplating moving a large chunk of its workforce to the suburbs. The Boston-based firm recently reported strong second quarter results fueled by strong servicing fees and security finance revenue.

In a July 15 earnings conference call, Chief Executive Ronald Logue stressed the company was going to maintain a tight reign on its finances, saying he's "pleased with our ability to moderate the growth of our salary and benefit expense first quarter to second quarter."

Fidelity, the world's largest mutual fund company, plans on maintaining its employment level in Massachusetts at its current level of about 12,000, says Vin Loporchio, a company spokesman. The firm has revamped its senior management team, bringing in Michael Willens from Thomson Reuters to head its Asset Management business, and Joseph A. Giordano to serve as executive vice president of Relationship Management for its $335 billion Institutional Wealth Services. Giordano is joining the firm from JPMorgan.

The hiring slowdown is hitting smaller financial companies such as the Boston-based buyout firm TA Associates. Like others in its sector, TA is getting squeezed by tightening credit markets to do deals. The 70-person firm has done half as many deals as a year ago, and the Boston Globe says it "appears unlikely" the firm will do any hiring next year.

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