Recruiter throws lifeline to Standard Chartered retail bankers in Asia

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Standard Chartered Bank

Retail bankers at Standard Chartered woke up this morning with the horrible news that another 2,000 jobs are to go during 2015 in the bank's clients business, with cuts mostly falling in Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, India and Indonesia.

It's more bad news for a workforce that suffered 22 branch closures in 2014 and 2,000 job losses in the past three months. Suddenly, 4,000 retail bankers from Standard Chartered look set to flood the Asian job market in 2015. What chance do they have of finding re-employment?

Things may not be as bad as they seem. Will Tan, managing partner of financial service search firm Principle Partners, points out that "a number" of regional players are growing aggressively. Retail bankers who leave Standard Chartered can find similar jobs. "The market can easily absorb 4,000 retail jobs," says Tan.

Tan claims that the retail banking market in Asia is actually very competitive. Standard Chartered's exit will lead to more entrants arriving. In June 2014, Standard Chartered sold two South Korean units to Japan's J-Trust; and just last month, the banks said it would sell its consumer finance business in Hong Kong to a consortium led by a Chinese institution.What will it take for the redundant retail bankers to find new jobs? Sales ability is all-important, says Tan. "Those leaving Standard Chartered with a good sales track record will have no issues finding something similar."

For Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands, it’s all about cost saving. Sands has successfully led the bank out of the financial crisis in a relatively good shape, but has been under pressure as the share price fell around 40% in 12 months. There were even rumors going around in the summer of 2014 that he might be replaced. However, today’s job cuts seemed to work in Sand’s favor. Shares rose more than 2% in London’s early trading, and a managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management wrote in an email that closing the cash equities business is a “necessary part of cost control”. The firm owns 10.9% of Standard Chartered’s shares.

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