Morning Coffee: Can Barclays keep the Asian bankers it doesn’t want to cut?

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Can Barclays hold on to its Asian bankers?

Clinging on to talent

The worst kept secret in Asian banking was finally confirmed yesterday: Barclays is closing its cash equity research, sales and trading businesses as well as its convertible bond-trading operations across Asia. About 230 people in the region will lose their jobs as a result.

Following its confirmation of the cuts, Barclays reportedly wasted no time swinging the axe. At least 10 trading staff were shown the door in Singapore yesterday, according to the Straits Times. Barclays has also told some of its Hong Kong equities professionals that they are among those being let go, reports Finance Asia. As we noted last week, while equities jobs at rival banks are thin on the ground – other firms are also trimming their Asian teams – there are a variety of alternative career options for redundant traders.

The British bank is not culling all its front-office employees in Hong Kong and Singapore, though. Barclays says it will keep its prime brokerage business, while reports suggest it will also retain its bonds, currencies and commodities trading, investment banking advisory, and equity derivatives businesses.

One of the challenges Barclays now faces, however, is holding on to its best staff in the functions it is preserving in Asia. “Some of those who survive the job cuts will be certainly tempted to look around after getting their bonuses,” says a headhunter in Hong Kong who asked not to me named. “We expect more calls from people at Barclays and other banks that are cutting back in Asia – regardless of whether their own team was hit. Big layoffs make everyone nervous.”

Barclays is unlikely to retain its bankers by paying above average bonuses. Its bonus pool for 2015 may be about 10% lower than the previous year, according to Bloomberg.


HSBC says it will continue to ‘invest’ in Singapore ahead of local incorporation. (Business Times)

Westpac considers cutting 100 investment banking jobs. (AFR)

Citi can withstand China downturn, says CEO Michael Corbat. (Bloomberg)

Cerulli Asia head leaves firm. (Asian Investor)

ING Bank invests heavily in Hong Kong Fintech. (Finews Asia)

Employers offer pay rises to tempt overseas-based Singaporeans to return home. (Channel News Asia)

The Chinese trust company coming out of the shadows. (Wall Street Journal)

Financial planner in Singapore? The public don’t trust you. (Straits Times)

lofilolo, iStock, Thinkstock

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