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Shhh – French banks have been adding staff

While all around were vigorously divesting themselves of investment bankers in 2008, France’s two most venerable institutions were vigorously adding them.

A belated look at the full year 08 reports of SocGen and BNP Paribas reveals that both banks ended their last fiscal years with more investment bankers than they began them with.

Headcount at BNP’s corporate and investment bank rose 10% last year to 17,318. And SocGen added 1,214 investment bankers, an increase of nearly 17%.

It’s not clear whether the headcount additions will now quietly continue or publicly shift into reverse.

In August last year SocGen declared its intention of adding 20,000 people across the bank. But when it released its results in February (and revealed a €2.2bn loss in its corporate and investment bank), it promised to trim managerial headcount in the division, while strengthening its presence in M&A. It’s also been pruning in non-core markets like Australia.

In December, BNP Paribas said it would cut 800 people from its securities unit after reporting a loss that wiped out all its corporate and investment banking profits for the previous 12 months.

Both banks could clearly trim more heavily if they wanted to. Given that a high proportion of their investment bankers are protected by French labour laws, they may not.

Comments (4)

  1. Calyon are always looking for staff, mainly because they treat their London office badly

  2. This article is a complete non-sense. Since when Investment Bankers are protected by French labour laws?
    Laws in France make job cuts more expensive and slow down the process but no jobs are protected, especially when it is for economic reasons. What about employees working out of France… are they also protected by French labour laws?

  3. French banks pay miserable salary as opposed to what they pay when they lay off. Hence there are more benefits for them to keep the staff rather than paying redundancy compensation. Only, french-based jobs are protected. However, the culture tends to widespread within the french banks offices abroad.

  4. non-sense…pay equally competitive..otherwise no chance to stay in the business

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