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Nordea is cutting staff quicker than expected, but appears to be paying its investment bankers more


The first quarter of this year has been relatively positive for Nordea, with net profit the period increasing by 4% to €775m. Despite this, it’s ahead of schedule in achieving its ‘New Normal’ target of reducing staff numbers by 2,000, but appears to have loosened the purse strings for its wholesale banking employees.

So far, 1,600 staff have departed from Nordea since the second quarter of last year, which CEO Christian Clausen describes as “somewhat ahead of plan”. The wholesale banking division, which posted a 4% year-on-year decline in operating profit of €446m, is also cutting headcount, yet staff costs increased by 11% to €202m.

The implication is that Nordea is setting aside more compensation after a relatively positive first quarter – for some areas of the business at least. In line with investment banks elsewhere in the world, foreign exchange and fixed income performed well in terms of both debt issuance and trading income.

Nordea has also benefited from a surge in bond issuance by corporates in the Nordic region during the first quarter.

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