As banks around the world cut sales and trading jobs in an effort to reduce costs, the bloodletting in foreign exchange is proving to be among the deepest and most painful.
Bloomberg News reports that the world’s 12 biggest banks cut front-office currency staff by 5% in 2015, extending a trend that’s seen them reduce foreign-exchange headcount by more than a quarter since 2010, according to Coalition Development Ltd, a London-based provider of research and analytics for the financial industry. Layoffs among foreign-exchange traders last year outpaced those in equities, corporate finance and advisory, and fixed income, currencies and commodities trading broadly.
The $5.3-trillion-a-day currency market has been transformed by a shift to automation that’s reduced staffing needs and coincided with declining volumes. Foreign-exchange trading in the U.K. and North America shrank by more than 20% in October from a year earlier, according to central banks in those regions. A 19% surge in revenue spurred by elevated volatility will likely do little to stem further cutbacks in the coming years, according to Coalition’s George Kuznetsov.
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