Posted by hkarner - 10. Oktober 2016
Source: The Economist
A grim new world, one with fewer bankers
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT quipped that “the modern city is a place for banking and prostitution and very little else.” Little did the early 20th-century architect know how banks would flourish, hoovering up much of the world’s talent by the early 2000s. But this golden age is ending: bankers’ jobs are at risk from the digital revolution on the one hand, and falling profits on the other.
Nowhere have bankers fallen from grace with such a bump as in Europe. This week ING, the Netherlands’ largest bank, announced that up to 7,000 jobs would be cut in the next five years. Commerzbank, Germany’s second-largest bank, had already reported it would cut its workforce by 9,600, nearly a fifth.
Across Europe, bankers are packing up. In Britain more than 10% of bank jobs were cut between 2011 and 2015; in Germany the workforce has shrunk by around 20% since 2001. Since the start of the year Credit Suisse has got rid of nearly 5,000 jobs and Barclays has shed 13,000. In Spain Banco Popular is cutting about one-fifth of jobs. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” notes Naeem Aslam, of Thinkmarkets, a broker. With today’s low interest rates, slow growth and rising regulatory costs, it is much harder for banks to be profitable.In such a choppy environment, costs are one of the few things a bank can control and these come primarily from the workforce. By cutting headcount and branches, frugal Scandinavian banks have brought their cost-to-income ratio, a measure of efficiency, down to the mid-40s. The European average is around 60%. But at Commerzbank the ratio is 79% and at Deutsche Bank 89%.
Brexit complicates matters further. A report this week by Oliver Wyman, a consultancy, estimated Britain might lose 35,000 jobs in financial services. Thorsten Beck of Cass Business School in London thinks some jobs will move to the euro zone. But others might be gone for good because of rigid labour laws and because some might be less worthwhile inside the euro area than in London.
Young people have heard enough: whereas in 2007 around 28% of MBA graduates from INSEAD, a European business school, chose a career in finance, last year only 15% did. Within that group fewer are opting for investment banking. That is good news for talent scouts at tech companies; bad news for tailors of bespoke pinstripe suits.