HSBC cuts 2,000 commercial bank jobs

LONDON • HSBC Holdings is eliminating 2,000 jobs in its commercial bank as part of a plan to cut costs, says a person briefed on the matter.

The cuts began last week and are expected to take two years, the source said, asking not to be identified.

In June, Europe's largest bank unveiled a three-year plan to shed businesses to shrink its workforce by some 50,000 and lower annual costs by as much as US$5 billion (S$7 billion). Sky News reported the commercial bank's cuts earlier on Monday.

"As flagged in our investor update, we have targeted significant cost reductions by the end of 2017, and we continually review and manage our overall headcount requirements," said Ms Heidi Ashley, a company spokesman.

HSBC's decision follows moves by other banks which have announced retrenchments. Standard Chartered is aiming for a 15,000 gross headcount reduction by 2018, while competitors Deusche Bank and Credit Suisse have outlined plans to eliminate as many as 28,000 positions combined.

HSBC is also reported to be in the final stages of deciding where it hangs its hat, considering a return to its birthplace in Hong Kong after more than two decades of being headquartered in London.

Future opportunities for HSBC to expand its consumer banking business are far richer in Asia than anywhere else, according to Bloomberg columnist Mark Gilbert.

By 2030, Asia-Pacific's middle class will account for 66 per cent of the world's total, up from just 28 per cent in 2009, according to figures and forecasts from the Brookings Institution. By contrast, Europe's share will slide to 14 per cent from 36 per cent in the same period, with the United States' share more than halving to 7 per cent from 18 per cent.

HSBC has already decided to relocate its asset management unit, which oversees about US$500 billion, to Asia. "There isn't an obviously dominant Asian asset manager, so we're going to relocate the sort of centre of the asset management business back to Hong Kong from London because we think there's a very big growth opportunity," chief exec Stuart Gulliver said in June.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'HSBC cuts 2,000 commercial bank jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe