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Asia looks likely to avoid ANZ’s axe

Escape plan

Hundreds of mainly back-office staff are set to lose their jobs at ANZ, but most of the roles will go in Australia not Asia. In fact, in some Asian markets, such as India, the firm’s headcount may expand as a direct result of the Australian axings, and hiring will continue across the region, all be it at a reduced rate to last year.

“ANZ is continuing to offshore roles – back-office staff, finance, operations, anything shared-services focussed – into lower-cost locations like India. In 2012 the majority of the damage looks like it will be to back-office jobs currently in Australia,” says one recruiter, who asked not to be named.

Another anonymous headhunter adds: “ANZ is no longer looking to be the number-one retail bank in Australia, but focussing on the Asia push. Many of the functions you will see disappear will be those that can be outsourced, so anything non-client facing will most likely go.”

According to an article in The Straits Times last week, the bank expects to increase its Singapore retail business by more than 20 per cent this year. But recruiters don’t think the rate of headcount expansion in 2012 will match that of the last two years. After all, the bank’s Asian hiring spree since it acquired some of RBS’s regional assets in mid 2009 contributed to the surging costs that triggered the Australian redundancies.

“It has been recruiting aggressively in Asia over the past 24 months, but I don’t think this is sustainable. We’ve already seen a slowdown in China. It paid well to attract candidates but that is also unsustainable,” says a recruiter with knowledge of the firm in Singapore and China.

She has also received feedback from candidates that ANZ needs better middle managers if its Singaporean push is to succeed in the long term. “But we shouldn’t forget that it is still seen as a profitable bank, which doesn’t have the same image problems as some of the other international firms. There is still an attraction for candidates in Asia, which job cuts in Australia probably won’t affect too much.”

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