HSBC France cuts jobs - what effect on local branches?

HSBC France has announced hundreds of job cuts in Paris – but it has clarified to The Connexion that the impact is only on its investment banking side, not retail banking for the public and businesses.

9 July 2020
By Liv Rowland

However it comes as plans to sell off completely its 230 retail banking branches – those used by around 800,000 members of the general public – are under way, with several potential buyers said to be interested. 

A total of 255 job cuts are expected in the Paris area, out of 678 in the ‘finance, investment and markets’ banking section, with the process likely to be completed by the end of next year.

The aim is that the investment banking cuts will be partly voluntary, with incentives to take early retirement for example, however, as many of those concerned are young traders, redundancies are also expected to be necessary, unions say.

The plan is a cost-cutting exercise by the bank, which is reducing its staff globally in a bid to remain competitive in the wake of falling profits.

It is also currently seeking to sell off its retail (referring to ordinary high street banking) side, which includes some 230 branches around the country, especially in the Paris area and the south-west.

It is unclear how long the sale could take. Franco-German bank Oddo and La Banque Postale are reported to be the most likely purchasers.

The bank has had branches in France since buying the Crédit Commercial de France network of French banks in 2000. It is the only foreign bank to have competed with French banks in the sector, however it has not proved profitable for the bank, which has its global headquarters in the UK.

Customers of the retail banking branches are expected to be invited to move their accounts to the new buyer and the branches are not expected to maintain the HSBC brand.

Banks for businesses will remain after sell-off of branches for the public

A spokeswoman for the firm said however the investment side will remain, “and there will be the whole business banking side”.

HSBC has around 40 branches around France solely for businesses.

She added: “We have a large investment banking side which is going to be HSBC’s hub for continental Europe, and a whole series of European branches that are attached to France.”

The decision to centralise European operations in France dates to 2018, and was reported to be linked to preparations for Brexit, which was then expected to take place on March 29, 2019.

The spokeswoman said that their typical client at the retail bank is not necessarily an English-speaking expatriate.

They have a mixed clientele with their typical customer having substantial savings she said.

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