Finance Jobs Outlook May 03 2012

Finance Industry Continues to Lay Off

By Julie Steinberg

The finance sector announced fewer layoffs in April than it did in March, but the outlook does not look bright for the embattled industry as banks continue to cut costs.

Banks, brokerages and other financial-services companies announced plans to shed 1,768 jobs in April, nearly 50% fewer than March's tally of 3,228, according to a report by Chicago-based outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Year-to-date, the industry has announced 12,860 layoffs, up from 10,654 at the same time last year.

"There's still pressure on financial companies," said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "There's still a lot of uncertainty. The Volcker rule is being talked about today. That's certainly going to impact a bank's ability to take risk and affect their growth."

Challenger believes there will be further restructuring in coming months.

Having brought on thousands in 2010 and 2011 in the aftermath of the financial crisis, banks are now struggling to pare down their ranks without ridding themselves of the source of their profits.

In its first-quarter earnings last month, Bank of America pledged its commitment to the cost-cutting initiative it began last year. The next phase involves cuts in the investment bank, commercial bank and wealth-management unit.

Other banks like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are gearing up to fire dozens of investment bankers beginning next month. Underperformers and those nearing retirement age are on deck for cuts.

"I don't see these pressures abating in the short term," Challenger said.

Write to Julie Steinberg at Julie.Steinberg@dowjones.com




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