- Banks worldwide cut 77,780 jobs in 2019, according to filings by financial institutions and labor unions — the highest total since 91,448 cuts in 2015.
- Nearly 82% of that figure came from banks in Europe, where negative interest rates are expected to continue for years to come.
- The four-year high mirrors a trend noted in a report published Thursday by executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which found that U.S. employers overall announced plans to cut 592,556 jobs from their payrolls in 2019, also the most since 2015.
The actual number of banking job cuts may be higher because many financial institutions eliminate employees without disclosing the plans, Bloomberg reported.
Deutsche Bank and HSBC together accounted for more than 30,000 announced job losses during the second half of 2019 alone. Deutsche in July began a significant restructuring, involving 18,000 staff cuts and a de-emphasis on investment banking. The Financial Times reported in October HSBC would cut 10,000 jobs. That figure comes on top of 4,700 job cuts announced in August, in tandem with the sudden departure of then-CEO Joe Flint.
Among U.S. banks, Morgan Stanley last month announced plans to cut about 1,500 jobs in a year-end attempt to boost efficiency. And Citigroup said in July it would cut hundreds across its fixed-income and stock-trading operations.
A Wells Fargo Securities report in October predicted the banking sector can expect technology to swallow up to 200,000 jobs over the next decade. That breaks down to a 20% to 33% workforce reduction for back office, branch, call center and corporate employees, with lesser impact on tech, sales, advising and consulting jobs.
The concentration of job losses in Europe highlights the tendency of governments to bail out banks that cull staff to maintain profitability. But it also showed the toll that trade disputes have taken on the continent.
"The sectors with the highest number of cuts this year were all dealing with trade concerns, emerging technologies, and shifts in consumer behavior,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which cited retail as its hardest-hit sector.
Cuts in Europe are expected to continue. BBVA and Julius Baer have announced in the past month that they are planning or considering staff reductions, according to Bloomberg.
In the U.S., meanwhile, government programs and rising rates have helped lenders bounce back more rapidly since the 2007-08 financial crisis.