Western banks axed 59,000 jobs last year, more cuts to come in Europe

Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:02pm EDT
 
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By Steve Slater

LONDON (Reuters) - Top European and U.S. banks axed 59,000 jobs last year as they restructured and cut costs, with headcount expected to shrink further in Europe as bosses strive to improve profitability that has been hit hard by tougher regulation.

Lenders have also sold or shut businesses to narrow their focus to avoid falling foul of regulators concerned that some have become too big and complex.

Analysts said that European banks, especially those in the euro zone, are likely to wield the knife again because they remain the most unprofitable in the world.

"The screws will stay tight on headcount," said Aymen Saleh, managing director at Boston Consulting Group in London.

"A handful of banks globally have really looked at structural change and taken a big cut from their cost base. The majority have done some tactical and convenient belt-tightening to take out costs, but without really fundamentally changing how they operate or their business model."

Eighteen of Europe's biggest banks cut a combined 21,500 jobs last year, but that was less than half of the 56,100 jobs cut by the same banks in 2013, according to data compiled by Reuters.

Six of the biggest U.S. banks cut a total of 37,500 jobs last year, having shed 45,700 in 2013.

That means more than 160,000 jobs have been cut across the 24 banks in the past two years. The six U.S. banks shed 7.3 percent of staff in the period, against 4.1 percent for the Europeans, the data shows.   Continued...

 
The Canary Wharf financial district is seen in east London November 12, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett