Falling morale hits HSBC staff ahead of job cuts

Pedro Gonçalves
Falling morale hits HSBC staff ahead of job cuts

Confidence has plummeted amongst HSBC's 237,000 staff as the lender prepares for a strategy review later this month that is expected to cull hundreds of jobs.

According to an internal survey reported by Bloomberg, only 4 in every 10 employees in Europe - which excludes the UK business - said they felt confident about the bank's future. 

"Confidence in the future has dropped everywhere except in some LatAm markets," said the bank in documents seen by Bloomberg. Across HSBC, there was an 8 percentage point drop in confidence to 66%. On the upside, 63% of staff agreed that "leadership is genuinely receptive to being challenged," a rise of 3 points.

Confidence in the future has dropped everywhere except in some LatAm markets"

At HSBC's European arm, confidence in the direction of the bank dropped 21 points in the second half of 2019 compared to the first half.

"The increase in neutral sentiment suggests a ‘wait-and-see' approach to HSBC's strategy. This underscores the need for clear and consistent messaging to support forthcoming strategy updates," the internal report stated, according to Bloomberg.

HSBC is set to unveil a strategy overhaul which will see a new round of job cuts targeting senior managers and reduce its presence in some smaller markets, Reuters reported.

The round of job cuts is expected to affect "a large number of global managerial roles across all business units," particularly in London, though Asia would not be spared, the news agency reported, noting that the region contributes to 90% of the bank's profits. It is unclear exactly how many jobs will be cut.

HSBC wrote to its employees on Feb. 3 in an attempt to calm fears, saying that they would be given full details of the plans later this month and warning of "speculation in the media" as to the nature of the coming announcement.

"While we appreciate that this can be unsettling, we cannot and do not comment on media speculation," the bank told staff.

HSBC has also decided not to name a permanent chief executive when it unveils this  strategic overhaul, in a move that risks undermining investor confidence in the plan to reshape the lender dramatically.


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