Standard Chartered axes more than 4,000 staff worldwide, but impact on S'pore headcount 'minimal'

Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands closed the bulk of its global equities business on Thursday.

The result? A loss of over 200 jobs mainly in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, India and Singapore, a spokesman told The Straits Times.

Bankers in Standard Chartered’s equities division in Hong Kong arrived on Thursday to find they were locked out of the office, while some in Singapore were escorted from their workplaces.

"We came in this morning and were told the equity business was being shut down," a woman who identified herself as an ex-employee at the bank’s offices in Singapore told Reuters, saying she had worked in research.

Impact on Singapore

The company also announced 4,000 job losses in retail banking jobs worldwide

Of those job cuts, 2,000 have already been made known in the last three months. The rest will be made by the end of this year "primarily be through attrition and by not replacing staff when they leave", said the spokesman.

The London-based bank currently employs about 7,000 people in Singapore.

The spokesman said the impact on its headcount in Singapore from announced job cuts "has been minimal".

"Singapore is one of the 85 high-growth cities which we have identified as strategic, based on market opportunity and growth and we will continue to invest here to better serve our clients."

The bank said the retail job cuts should save US$200 million (S$268m) in costs this year, while the closure of the equities business should result in US$100 million of savings next year.

Cost-cutting plan

The moves form part of a cost-cutting plan the bank announced last October.

The decision to exit equities marks a reversal in strategy for the bank, which had tried but failed to make its mark in the equities business.

Mr Sands is increasingly coming under pressure from shareholders to revamp the bank, which has seen its share price slump more than 40 per cent over the past two years.

Its biggest shareholders include Singapore state investor Temasek and asset managers Aberdeen Asset Management and BlackRock.

Other global banks such as HSBC and Citigroup have been making cuts to their retail banking businesses in recent years, exiting inefficient markets and trying to focus more on online services rather than bricks-and- mortar branches.

Sources: Reuters, The Straits Times