Securities professionals love their jobs-even when they're out of work.

That is the conclusion of a recent survey of 150 outplaced securities executives by New York career services firm Lee Hecht Harrison.

The firm found that in contrast to other industries, where typically a third of displaced professionals seek work outside their most recent field, 90% of securities executives try to stay in the same business arena.

Among displaced commercial bankers, half pursue new careers outside the industry, according to Lee Hecht Harrison research.

"It's high pressure and all that, but the securities business can be somewhat intoxicating," said a former trader with Bankers Trust New York Corp. who lost his job after BT acquired Alex. Brown & Sons. He found an identical job at another firm within two months. "Every day, you're placing your bets."

Just as consolidation in the banking field has handed many bankers their walking papers over the last several years, the recent rash of mergers on Wall Street has sent people packing.

Bankers Trust's deal to buy Alex. Brown, for instance, caused turnover because of overlapping areas of specialty. Many jobs also were lost when Morgan Stanley & Co. combined with Dean Witter, Discover & Co. But the lucrative pay packages keep securities professionals coming back for more.

"You can make an awful lot of money," said George Mauze, senior vice president at Lee Hecht Harrison. "That is one of the reasons why people are staying in the business."

The survey covered individuals with $70,000 to $150,000 in annual salary, plus bonuses equal to two to four times salary.

Regardless of the position, optimism reigns among outplaced securities professionals, according to the survey. And for good reason: Brokerage and securities executives find new positions up to 25% faster than people making careers in other industries, the Lee Hecht Harrison survey said.

The current boom on Wall Street contributes to an ample supply of positions, unlike the post-crash days of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when securities jobs were hard to come by.

This is not to say that outplaced executives are looking for the exact same jobs they lost.

Only 27% of those surveyed said they wanted to find an identical position. Half said they wanted to find a position in the securities industry that was similar or related to the one they lost, while 10% said they wanted a completely different position within the securities industry. Three percent said they hoped to develop their own business within the industry.

Only 10% said they wanted out of the industry altogether.

The high earnings potential associated with many jobs in the securities industry is a key factor in the loyalty to the trade.

Because securities executives generally have very highly focused, task- oriented jobs-stock transfer agents, for example-they tend to find it difficult to start anew outside the industry, said Mr. Mauze.

"You don't have a lot of skills that are real transferable," he said. "Intellectually someone can do it, but it becomes difficult."

Many jobs lost are in foreign exchange as well as fixed-income sales and trading. Also, fixed-income research has seen significant turnover, according to Mr. Mauze.

Growth areas include derivatives, equities, and portfolio management, he said.

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