LONDON (Reuters) – Headcount at top global banks’ fixed income, currency and commodity (FICC) desks fell 7 percent last year, despite the shock Brexit vote and outcome of the U.S. election boosting trading, industry figures showed on Friday.
Tighter regulation and cost-cutting since the financial crisis and more automated trading has reduced business for big banks in these markets, leading to attrition in staffing levels.
According to industry analytics firm, Coalition, the aggregated number of front office staff – covering sales, trading, and research – at the top 12 global banks fell to 17,479 in 2016, down from 18,755 the year before and nearly 25 percent lower than in 2012.
Coalition’s head of research and analytics, George Kuznetsov, said that banks saw the pick-up in business resulting from interest-rate volatility last year as a one-off and had therefore not increased headcount based on that.
“The recovery in credit looks more sustainable, but a certain portion of 2016 revenue in G10 rates events are seen by most banks as a one-off. This is why we haven’t seen any significant increase in headcount,” he said.
Once again, the staffing cuts were bigger at European banks.
Headcount at the top seven banks fell nearly 9 percent from 2015 to 8,119 and is down 30 percent from 11,650 in 2012.
Front office FICC headcount at the top five U.S. banks fell 5 percent to 9,360, Coalition said, down 16 percent from 2012.
U.S. banks cleaned up their balance sheets and recovered from the 2008 crisis much more quickly than European banks, which have also been hurt by the region’s debt crisis.
Many European banks have reduced their presence in certain markets and some have pulled out of some areas altogether.
(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Louise Ireland)