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Nordea job cuts leaving the front office unscathed – for now

Lehman Brothers, New York

Lehman Brothers, New York

Remember those iconic images of shell-shocked newly-redundant Lehman Brothers’ employees wandering about with boxes containing their worldly possessions?

You’re unlikely to see similar scenes in the Nordic region, despite some large job cut announcements of late.

Nordea confirmed last week that more than half of its 2,000 job cuts proposed last summer had already been made. Unfortunately – or fortunately for Nordic bankers – the reality appears to be somewhat more prosaic.

Certainly, of the 2,000 to go, 1,100 have already been shown the exit but, it also has to be remembered, this is 2,000 out of a global headcount of 34,000.

Moreover, of these, the cuts in the Nordic region are in their hundreds, with 500 to 650 going from Denmark, Finland and Sweden combined and between 200 to 300 in Norway, the bank has said.

The majority of cuts have hit back office and administrative roles, and this is where any future headcount reduction will take place, emphasises the bank’s head of communications Claus Christensen.

“The cuts have been across all the business areas and have been made pretty evenly,” he says.

“Nevertheless, predominantly it is back office functions that have been where the cuts have been focused, and where they will continue to be focused going forward.

“So it is things such as administration and operations rather than customer-facing units,” he adds.

“Most of the people being laid off by the big banks are not the highly qualified ones; people who are in banking as a job rather than a career perhaps. There have been very few higher level or specialist jobs being lost,” explains one recruiter.

“Overall the economy in Sweden at the moment is quite good; firms are relatively optimistic. When you are in a back office, administrative or retail role you can probably move to other similar roles or industries. Moreover, there will not be any large barriers in terms of compensation,” he adds.

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