European banking job numbers drop a further 21,000 in first half

Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:51am EDT
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By Clare Hutchison

LONDON (Reuters) - The banking sector's long and painful restructuring accounted for a further 1.2 percent fall in staff numbers at Europe's biggest lenders in the first half of the year, data compiled by Reuters shows, with little prospect of an upturn any time soon.

Forced to hold more capital against risky assets since the imposition of new regulations after the financial crisis, Europe's top lenders have been shrinking steadily to counter the resulting loss of profitability in some areas of their business while a crackdown on proprietary trading has cut off a valuable source of supplementary revenue.

Of the 25 of Europe's 30 largest listed banks that disclose employee numbers for the six months to the end of June, including Barclays (BARC.L: Quote), Deutsche Bank DBKGn.De and UBS UBSN.VX, headcount fell at 16. Though nine of the banks added staff, total jobs across the group fell by 21,135.

About half of the drop is attributable to Dutch lender ING ING.AS no longer including Indian offshoot ING Vysya Bank in its headcount figures, but it remains clear that banks are becoming less significant employers.

The trend is even more pronounced in the United States, where the four biggest banks by assets - JPMorgan (JPM.N: Quote), Bank of America (BAC.N: Quote), Citi (C.N: Quote) and Wells Fargo (WFC.N: Quote) - cut 23,300 jobs in the first half of the year. That takes the total for the past 12 months to more than 52,000 - about 5 percent of their combined workforce.

The pace of decline in Europe was slightly slower than in 2013 when the 25 banks together cut about 63,000 jobs over the full year, but financial services recruiters say that more swinging cuts cannot be ruled out.

"Banks in 2014 do not hesitate to shut down businesses that are loss-making ... there's (no longer) any shame in that," said Jason Kennedy, chief executive of Kennedy Group, a recruitment firm specializing in investment banking and hedge funds.

"New-age banks have fewer people, less product and are less profitable."   Continued...

A sign for Bank Street and high rise offices are pictured in the financial district Canary Wharf in London in this October 21, 2010 file photo.  REUTERS/Luke Macgregor/Files