HSBC plans a jobs cull in Europe

EUROPE is set to lose thousands of jobs to higher-growth markets in Asia as HSBC slashes its headcount by 30,000 in the next two years.

That includes 700 jobs cut in the UK alone in the first half of this year, with more to come as the bank refocuses its business eastwards. It has also cut 700 jobs in France, 1,400 in the US and 300 in the Middle East.

By contrast, it has hired 1,500 in Asia-Pacific and 800 in Brazil, although Latin America overall has seen 1,700 jobs cut.

The bank says that the numbers are merely gross job cuts, with many likely to go through “natural attrition”. But it has no estimate for the net job losses expected in the UK or overall.

It does, however, have concrete plans to hire 3,000-4,000 people per year in emerging markets, despite rising wage inflation.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver put the UK job losses down to an increasing burden of regulation driving up costs. Brian Robertson, head of HSBC’s European businesses, told City A.M. he expects headcount in the region to be “broadly flat” as it grows elsewhere.

But that could change, the bank warned, due to regulatory changes recommended by Independent Commission on Banking (ICB).

Gulliver said: “We’ll really have to wait to see what the ICB will say before we know what our headcount will be.”

Chairman Douglas Flint added that the ICB will also “inform” its decision on whether to stay headquartered in the UK or move elsewhere.