HSBC is staying in London! Or is it? While the British-based bank has opted to remain indefinitely headquartered at Canary Wharf, CEO Stuart Gulliver said this morning that if the UK leaves the EU, “a chunk of employees” in HSBC’s global markets business will likely move to Paris.
HSBC isn’t the only bank making threatening noises about its London-based staff. Credit Suisse is cutting 30% of its London headcount and has already begun moving prime services traders to Dublin. Goldman Sachs says it’s switched its hiring to ‘low cost centers’ and has opened a new technology-focused office in Warsaw. And Jim Cowles, Citi’s chief executive in EMEA, told the FT today that the bank has already moved 850 jobs out of London in the past few years and “will continue to look to reduce” the number of staff it has in the city.
Figures for leading banks’ UK headcount tell a more nuanced story, however. As the chart below, taken from the number of registered employees each bank has with the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), shows, some banks have substantially increased their UK headcount since 2010 – Citigroup Global Markets among them.
The FCA’s figures suggest Citigroup has hiked registered headcount in its UK global markets division by over 20% since 2010. Within the UK, most of Citi’s global markets staff are based in Canary Wharf, although the bank also has technology operations in Belfast.
Goldman Sachs International has also increased UK-based headcount since 2010, with the addition of 167 people – a rise of 8%.
By comparison, the biggest cuts in UK registered headcount over the past six years have come at HSBC and Credit Suisse, with both banks have trimming staff by more than 20%.
London hasn’t suffered disproportionately, however. Credit Suisse’s 21% cut in its UK headcount over the past six years matches the 21% cut in its investment banking headcount globally over the same period. HSBC is in the process of cutting 20% of global headcount and may have sliced into UK staff ahead of time. And Deutsche Bank cut 25% of its front office investment banking staff since 2010, whilst reducing its registered staff in the UK by a mere 7%.
London is less appealing than it was a location for investment banking jobs. But the experience of the past six years suggests that while some banks talk loudly about moving jobs out of the UK, they don’t always do so.
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