South Africa's Standard Bank has been busy picking up top financial markets professionals from rivals in the last 2/3 years, and was in growth mode even when competitors were retrenching in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis.
But all that is about to change, and this is yet another ominous sign for the financial markets industry as a whole.
Standard Bank's Group CEO, Jacko Maree, sent staff a memo earlier this week, warning that the bank has no option but 'to carefully re-examine our cost base and the way we operate'. He confirmed that the bank is 'currently analysing all operating costs across the group, including staff costs, our biggest expense item'.
Maree confirmed that the review 'is likely to lead to retrenchments at all levels, with emphasis on managers and executives within various 'head office' environments, particularly Johannesburg and London'. The employee consultation process is thought just about to start.
Our sources advise that staff fear that around 15 - 20% of jobs could go in London, where the bank has over 1,000 employees, and say that there has recently been a change of leadership at the European wholesale operations and that senior executives in the Americas and Asia have already left.
A spokesperson for Standard Bank said, however, that the review was ongoing and that no final decision on headcount reductions had been reached, adding that 'this was a difficult period for everyone involved'.
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