It is not easy for one bank to anger more people with one announcement than what Barclays did in the past 24 hours. In one fell swoop, the British bank infuriated shareholders after announcing dismal earnings (an adjusted Q4 profit of about 200 million pounds and a statutory profit of less than 100 million as investment banking income slumped 37% as income fell 9% to 10.7 billion due to a fall in fixed income, and it took further charges related to a cleanup of the banking industry in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis) which sent the share price sliding, it then pissed off UK workers and taxpayers after it announced it would hike investment bank bonuses by 13% despite the abovementioned profit slump, and finally it crushed 9% of its workforce, or 12,000 workers, who are set to prepare pink slips as the bank “streamlines.”
Barclays said 820 senior roles would go, and half of those were cut at the investment bank in the last two weeks. It cut 7,650 jobs last year, including 1,400 in the investment bank, as part of a restructuring unveiled a year ago by Jenkins to cut 1.7 billion pounds of annual costs. There were 139,600 Barclays employees by the end of the year.
More from Reuters:
Stepping up efforts to cut costs, Barclays said up to 9 percent of employees could go, including 7,000 in Britain, where half of the affected staff had already been notified. The cuts are not concentrated in any single business area.
Britain’s third-biggest bank said it paid 2.4 billion pounds ($3.9 billion) in incentive awards last year after raising bonuses at the investment bank by 13 percent despite a slump in profits from the business. The average bonus across the investment bank’s 26,200 staff was 60,100 pounds.
The combination of lay-offs and fatter bonuses drew indignation from Britain’s biggest labor union.
“The culture change the bank promised will be less than skin deep if those at the top still hoover up obscene amounts of money while workers in call centers and branches struggle by on low wages and face the persistent pressure of job insecurity,” said Ciaran Naidoo of Unite the Union.
Under fire, Barclay’s new CEO Anthony Jenkins was forced to defend the bonus hike decision, saying the bank had to recruit the best staff to compete with global rivals and continued to have “constructive” talks with investors over pay. “We need to recruit people from Singapore to San Francisco. We need the best people in the bank to drive long-term sustainable returns for our shareholders,” Jenkins told reporters on a conference call. “I understand that there will be some (people) who feel that this decision is the wrong one for Barclays. But it is the decision of the board and myself that this entirely is the right decision for the group and in the long-term interests of shareholders,” he said.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a bank if it didn’t blame someone. Sure enough, as we predicted would happen in 2009 after the backlash against HFT and vacuum tubes became instituionalized, that someone is “technology”:
Jenkins said banking was going through a “100-year transformation” as technology and cost pressures reshape the industry, and he was optimistic that Barclays was well set for a “pivotal” 2014.
Well, time to hire some algos then: we hear they are easy on the contract negotiations. Or, failing that, the bank can just appoint “a junior trader as interim head of its London spot foreign exchange desk, illustrating a thinning out of the ranks after a torrent of traders has departed or been suspended amid a global probe into alleged market manipulation.”
And just like that, the E-trade babies – with zero non-ZIRP world experience – and their collocated toys, have literally taken over the banking asylum.