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A good day to bury bad news? HSBC cuts hundreds of posts from branches

The Unite union yesterday accused HSBC of trying to bury bad news by announcing 700 job cuts on the same day as Lloyds unveiled its swingeing staff reduction plans.

HSBC said it was "reshaping" its UK business for the future by cutting 460 financial advisers no longer needed because of changes to rules on such advice. A further 240 jobs will go in IT, service delivery and head-office functions such as compliance and human resources. Unite said the real figure was more than 840. The union added: "Today Lloyds announced the long-anticipated results of its strategic review which, horrifyingly, stated that some 15,000 of its workforce are to be axed and HSBC has decided to bury its own bad news on the same day.

"The workforce being hit by these extensive cuts today were in no way responsible for the banking crisis, yet it is these staff, many of them low-paid, who are having to pay for the bank's recovery. Unite is demanding that HSBC takes every possible step to avoid any job losses and focus on re-training and redeployment as opposed to redundancy."

The Financial Services Authority's Retail Distribution Review will ban commission paid on sales of financial products from the end of next year and will instead require advisers to charge the customer.

HSBC said it was making the cuts because there would be a big drop in mid-market demand for advice. It will now offer free, very basic advice for the mass market and a paid-for service for well-off customers.

Barclays announced in January it was scrapping advice in its branches completely, putting 1,000 jobs at risk.

HSBC said it had agreed the date of the announcement with Unite and that it came after a long process of consultation.

Joe Garner, the head of HSBC UK, said: "These decisions have only been made after very careful thought and consideration for our people, the long term business needs and economic environment.

"We will work extremely closely with all those colleagues affected by today's announcement so that we can try to find them alternative roles thereby minimising the number of people who actually leave the HSBC Group."

The cuts will cover slightly more than 1 per cent of HSBC's 55,000 workforce in the UK.