HSBC is set to axe 2,000 jobs in the UK over the next 18 months, in the latest jobs bloodbath to hit the country's financial sector.
HSBC – Europe's biggest bank – has already made 4,400 staff redundant in the UK since the start of the credit crunch in 2008. Yesterday it told another 2,000 employees their jobs were disappearing. The affected roles are predominantly management positions on HSBC's retail banking side, with managers at the bank's Canary Wharf headquarters expected to wield the axe hardest. Other cut posts are investment advisers, who are to disappear as part of HSBC's response to the retail distribution review (RDR), which will see far stricter rules implemented on the sale of financial products to consumers. About 5 per cent of the bank's 52,000-strong UK workforce will be cut.
HSBC is expected to make an official announcement about the job losses today.
An insider said the axed posts were part of the 30,000 jobs worldwide that the chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, had earmarked to go by 2013. Mr Gulliver wants to cut annual costs at the bank by about £2.2bn.
He is pulling the bank out of countries where it lacks scale. Last year, the bank axed almost 7,000 jobs around the world, particularly in Hong Kong, Brazil, the US, Canada and Mexico, leaving it with some 288,000 employees at the end of December.
The UK is part of Mr Gulliver's second wave of redundancies.
The banking industry has faced massive job cuts in recent months, with the taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group announcing plans to axe 1,300 jobs and transfer 300 roles to India, and bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland cutting 464 posts.
The Unite union said that since the start of the financial crisis, Lloyds had shed 28,600 workers and RBS about 26,000. The union's national officer for financial services, David Fleming, said last night: "Unite will oppose any job losses at HSBC and is in dialogue with the bank regarding the speculation today. Bank staff deserve so much more than this awful treatment by HSBC or any other employer. How can this bank consider staff cuts when it was the workforce that delivered it a profit of £13.8bn last year?
"The hypocrisy of CEO Stuart Gulliver taking home £8m, while talking up job losses in order to save money, will not be lost on the workforce."
HSBC declined to give an official comment yesterday.