MEES Pierson has closed its entire regional research operations and reduced its Hong Kong research staff to three. The ABN-AMRO owned brokerage has become the latest victim of a bear market, and has joined other major brokerages in cutting staff. Around 20 research staff were sacked last Tuesday, and the once busy offices were now occupied by a couple of people answering the telephones. 'I was an analyst, now I am just a receptionist,' one survivor said. Cuts have also been made from sales staff and back office, but have not been as severe. The firm is the third major brokerage to make cuts this year, following in the footsteps of Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered Securities. The departing staff have all been offered about four months severance pay, but will face a tight market with few firms hiring investment analysts next year. General manager Frans Peyster said the brokerage side of the business was not seeing enough volume and that 'hurt the business'. He said the restructuring was limited to the brokerage side. and stressed that fund management, private banking, and custodial services would continue to grow next year.