Wednesday, January 11, 2012

RBS 2012 lay offs may effect Hong Kong and Singapore most

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), part-nationalised British fat cat,  is expected to announce Britain’s biggest corporate loss of up to £28bn on Thursday and will lay off 5,000 staff globally from its investment banking division. But unlike the previous lay offs which effected Asia the least, this time might be different:

"“We have just heard that most of them will be made redundant here in Asia in Q1 and Q2,” says a headhunter who was told the news by a director at RBS in Hong Kong on Wednesday. The BBC’s business editor has similar thoughts: “much of the pain will be in Asia and North America.”

As the major regional centres, Hong Kong and Singapore are likely to be most affected. But why has Asia now been hit when other banks have focussed their recent international redundancy announcements on Western markets? “With all that has gone on in the last couple of years at RBS, it has already trimmed down Europe and the US to a minimum. Asia can no longer escape,” says the headhunter.

RBS has already cut 30,000 staff since its near collapse in 2008 and as much as 20,000 of them came from UK. As the headhunter above said, there is no much room to cut staff there and this time Asia may not escape.

According to Bloomberg, everyone in cash equities will be cut, and quite possibly everyone in corporate broking and M&A. Lay-offs are likely in the back and middle office as well as the front, adds the headhunter."
Source : Lay-offs loom large as the RBS axe arrives in Asia

Bankers bringing money are safe for now, the cuts will mostly effect "the fat cats on large base salaries who haven’t bought in enough business". The shrinkage of investment banking will take the number of employees in Global Banking and Markets down from around 17,000 at the moment to less than 15,000. I am told that a couple of thousand left at the end of last year, so total job cuts would be around 5,000, including those who have already left.[1]

According to, RBS makes heavy cuts in Asia equities division, has made major lay-offs in institutional and retail equity sales and structuring in the region, and whispers it plans to shut its equities and corporate finance units globally:

"Amid reports that the UK’s RBS will cut 4,000 staff in investment banking globally, the equities division in Asia is seeing deep cuts across Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, including a raft of institutional salespeople and structurers."

The article gives details about people who has recently left RBS in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and China.

As we have written before Singapore and Hong Kong job market trends for 2012 are already not very good and Singapore job outlook looks bleak in 2012.

[1] - Why RBS is shrinking its investment bank

See also Morgan Stanley cuts 10 fixed-income jobs in Singapore, Hong Kong. Further banking lay-offs are expected in Asia.


  1. Well, more info follows on this -

    I am an ex-RBS employee & nothing of this sort was heard of until last September when i left the organization in India & move to SG. Things can change so fast. Even after getting bailed out in 2008, all the RBS employees had the privilege of traveling in Business Class flights. I knew that this day would come soon & I am thankful to GOD for writing a different destiny for me.

  2. Thanks for the link Abhishek. It was far better for the British and world economy if all these fat cats like RBS were let go and the massive resources they are mis-allocating were freed. Of course, they are "too well connected" to fail.

    It would be surprising if these guys were not behaving like spoiled kids after bail-out.