- The 15 largest U.S. and European banks added 19,000 employees in the first half of 2020, Bloomberg reported, citing company filings.
- Barclays, with more than 7,000 added staff members, saw the steepest workforce boost among the group, while HSBC, which shed nearly 3,000 positions, reported the biggest decrease.
- The payroll swell may not last. During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of banks pledged not to cut jobs throughout 2020 — or at least to pause planned layoffs. However, banks such as HSBC and Deutsche have resumed their plans to restructure.
Eight of the 15 banks — Barclays, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi, UBS, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — increased their headcount between January and June, Bloomberg reported.
It may not be surprising to see some of the names in the plus column. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman was among the first bank executives to place a blanket moratorium on cuts. Citi, as early as January, announced its intention to hire 2,500 coders in a segment that includes its traders and investment bankers. Bank of America said it hired 2,000 people in March and was shifting more than 3,000 employees to new roles in its consumer and small-business divisions.
However, Wells Fargo's bubble may be short-lived. The bank, which added 6,500 employees between January and June, is reportedly drafting plans to cut tens of thousands of employees starting this year. The move comes as the bank posted its first quarterly loss since 2008. CEO Charlie Scharf has since said he wants to trim $10 billion from the bank’s annual expenses.
Three of the 15 banks' head counts remained unchanged, while four — HSBC, Deutsche, BNP Paribas and NatWest — saw reductions in the first half of 2020. Some of those banks have had long-standing plans to cut their workforce. Deutsche announced in July 2019 its intention to cut 18,000 employees. HSBC, meanwhile, is slashing 35,000 over three years. NatWest, formerly the Royal Bank of Scotland was widely expected to announce layoffs in February when it rebranded and deepened its pledge to counteract climate change.
Meanwhile, second-half job cuts have begun. Deutsche on Wednesday announced plans to accelerate thousands of job cuts at its retail unit's German offices. On the same day, NatWest said it was trimming 500 jobs. And Dutch lender ABN Amro, which is not among the 15 largest U.S. and European banks, said Wednesday it was cutting about one-third of its investment bank — up to 800 employees — over the next four years.