Investment bank job cuts near 30,000 as outlook sours
Global investment banks are shedding tens of thousands of jobs as falling interest rates, weak trading volumes and the march of automation create a brutal summer for the sector. Almost 30,000 lay-offs have been announced since April at banks including HSBC, Barclays, Société Générale, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank. Most of the cuts have come in Europe, with Deutsche accounting for more than half the total, while trading desks have been hit hardest. In New York City, jobs in commodity and securities trading fell 2 per cent in June from the year before, a loss of about 2,800 positions, according to the New York Department of Labor. Bank executives are under pressure from investors to cut costs and protect profits. Since long-term US interest rates began to fall in November, the KBW index of US bank shares has fallen 5 per cent, while the S&P 500 has risen by 6 per cent. The Stoxx index tracking European banks has lost 16 per cent since November to hit a three-year low. While the reasons given vary from bank to bank, there are signs that deeper trends, such as the increasing pile of debt paying negative interest rates, are forcing the sector to shrink. “Clearly, the outlook for investment banking revenue is getting tougher,” said Andrew Lowe, a banks analyst at Berenberg. “It’s hard to make money as an investment bank in a zero or negative rates environment.” Automated trading, passive investment strategies and consolidation of volumes by the biggest players have drained much of the profit from the trading of stocks and many kinds of futures.