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Banks Keep Cutting Currency Traders as Volatility No Task Saver

As banks around the globe cut sales and trading jobs in an effort to reduce expenses, the bloodletting in foreign exchange is showing to be amongst the deepest and most agonizing.

The world’s 12 biggest banks cut front-office currency staff by 5 percent in 2015, extending a pattern that s seen them lower foreign-exchange headcount by more than a quarter since 2010, according to Coalition Development Ltd., a London-based carrier of research and analytics for the financial industry. Layoffs among foreign-exchange traders in 2014 outmatched those in equities, business finance and advisory, and fixed earnings, currencies and commodities trading broadly.

The $5.3-trillion-a-day currency market has actually been transformed by a shift to automation that’s decreased staffing requirements and accompanied decreasing volumes. Foreign-exchange trading in the U.K. and North America diminished by more than 20 percent in October from a year previously, according to central banks in those areas. A 19 percent surge in revenue spurred by elevated volatility will likely do little to stem further cutbacks in the coming years, according to Coalition s George Kuznetsov.

" The outlook for headcount is negative to neutral," Kuznetsov, head of research study and analytics at Coalition, stated in a Feb. 19 interview. "Last year’s spike in profits didn’t always make banks alter their opinion about the foreign-exchange market."

SNB Shock

Banks reaped higher foreign-exchange earnings for the first time since 2011, driven by a rise in activity after the Swiss National Bank stunned markets last January by abandoning its currency cap. Incomes from offering and trading Group-of-10 currencies in the spot, forwards and options markets increased to $9.5 billion last year, up from $8 billion in 2014.

We saw an enormous spike in foreign-exchange volatility related to the Swiss franc. This generated trading chances and, most notably, increased customer activity to assist boost banks earnings for the year, Kuznetsov stated. "It does look like a one-off volatility event that drove the boost in efficiency."

A JPMorgan Chase & Co. gauge of currency volatility averaged 10.08 last year, the most since 2011.

Deutsche Bank AG, which runs Europe s most significant investment bank by revenue, stated Monday it will cut 75 tasks at its trading company. The task losses will focus on Deutsche Bank’s fixed earnings device, which also consists of currency trading, according to a representative. Credit Suisse Group AG is cutting about 200 positions in London, about half of them in global markets, Reuters reported Monday.

The 5 percent decline in front-office foreign-exchange headcount in 2014 compares to a 1 percent drop in corporate finance and advisory positions and a 4 percent decline in net earnings, currencies and commodities tasks broadly. Equity headcount stayed flat, according to Coalition.

Banks that decide to make further cuts to foreign-exchange desks will likely deliver market share and be forced to decrease activities in some currency items or markets, Kuznetsov said.

The 12 banks included in Coalition s analysis were Bank of America Corp., Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, SocieteGenerale SA, and UBS Group AG.

 

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