The number of jobs Barclays cut in Singapore last week was not as large as reported, and the British bank still retains much of its core business here, a bank insider has told The Straits Times.
"A total of 71 employees were let go. A lot of the cuts were made because we are exiting the cash equity business here. That included the sales, research, and legal or compliance folks supporting that business," the insider said.
"A few were let go from the local currencies team for Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia," said the person, who did not want to be named.
Some affected staff claimed Barclays had axed about 100 people, adding that the bank did not provide any retrenchment benefits.
"The bank has in fact engaged Optum, an employee counselling service provider, to support the affected employees and families. A list of headhunters was also provided," the same person said.
The cuts in Singapore were part of a regional exercise that saw Barclays slashing 1,000 jobs in Asia, reflecting European banks' struggle to maintain their presence in the region as investment markets deteriorate and growth concerns persist.
In the past six months, it was reported that Standard Chartered and Royal Bank of Scotland have also cut jobs in Singapore.
Barclays is exiting non-core Asian markets including Taiwan and South Korea but is keen to keep an office here, the person stressed.
"Beyond the two areas where we'd cut people, the rest of our business here hasn't really changed. We still have our electronic equities, merchant bank, capital futures, commodity derivatives. Most of the people haven't been affected and our macro-business is still intact."
But the management remains wary of the high operating costs in Singapore, owing partly to the high manpower costs.
Also, the emergence of new financial technologies has disrupted the financial sector while reducing the need for rank-and-file workers.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore is understood to be working with the industry to help financial professionals adapt to the structural changes.
Wong Wei Han