HSBC revamp to cut jobs in UK

2012-04-25 16:50

London - HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, is set to cut about 2 000 jobs in Britain on Thursday as part of its drive to slash costs and boost profitability in the face of a changing banking landscape, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The cuts are part of chief executive Stuart Gulliver’s global revamp to shed 30 000 jobs globally by the end of 2013 and streamline the bank for changes in British regulation, people familiar with the matter said.

HSBC declined to comment.

Over 80 000 banking jobs have been shed in Britain since the end of 2008. Most have come at Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, which have axed about 32 000 and 25 000 UK jobs respectively.

Banks across the world are shedding thousands of staff as they try to improve profitability and cope with tougher global regulations.

In Britain banks have been told they must separate their retail banking operations, and also need to shake up how they sell products under a retail distribution review.

HSBC employs about 52 000 staff in Britain so less than 5% of its staff will be affected by the changes, which will affect retail banking, head office functions and other areas.

HSBC made a profit of $3.5bn in its British businesses last year, up from $2.4bn in 2010.

Global revamp

Gulliver wants to cut annual costs by about $3.5bn and is retreating from countries and areas where the bank lacks scale. The plan also involves improving efficiencies across the bank.

HSBC cut almost 7 000 jobs globally last year, leaving it with about 288 000 employees at the end of December.

It shed jobs in Hong Kong, the United States, Brazil, Canada and Mexico and some head office functions in the first wave of the revamp.

Britain is in the second wave of countries affected. It could cut hundreds of staff in India soon, according to local media reports.

Gulliver expects to add about 15 000 jobs in fast-growing markets at the same time as cutting back elsewhere.

“This is a redesigning of the group, not a shrinkage. It’s to get ourselves on the front foot,” he said earlier this year.

The London-based bank operates in 85 countries and Gulliver is trying to sharpen its focus on fast-growing Asian markets.

It made a $22bn profit last year, the largest by a Western bank, but costs continue to rise and its return on equity was 10.9%, short of its 12-15% target.

Gulliver warned that turning around costs will take time, after underlying costs as a percentage of income rose to 61% last year from 55.6% the year before and well above his target of under 52%.