Tens of thousands of jobs go as China’s biggest banks cut costs

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China’s four biggest banks reported that staff numbers fell by the most in at least six years in the first half, highlighting the possibility that employment has peaked at the firms that are the world’s biggest providers of banking jobs.

A decline of 1.5 per cent from the end of last year left 1.62 million workers at Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Bank of China, earnings filings showed. Agricultural Bank, the No. 1 bank employer, saw its number of employees slip below half a million.

While a fall in the first half is not unusual, the 25,000-job decline is the biggest since at least 2010 and analysts at firms including BOC International Holdings and DBS Vickers Hong Kong say changes to how banking is done will limit prospects for increases.

“Chinese banks went through years of expansion, adding physical outlets that helped to push their staff numbers to a peak,” said Polar Zhang, a Beijing-based bank analyst at BOC International. He expects the workforce to “dwindle” on technological advances and cost cutting.

Chinese lenders take four of the top five slots for employment by listed banks around the world, ahead of the likes of Wells Fargo & Co, HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc., data compiled by Bloomberg show. Russia’s Sberbank PJSC is in the top five.

Lenders from Citigroup to Deutsche Bank AG have cut staff and costs in revamps since the global financial crisis. While Chinese banks have avoided the… read full story

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