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Ipswich bank staff under threat as HSBC reveals plans to axe 35,000 jobs

PUBLISHED: 10:23 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:33 18 February 2020

HSBC's Tavern Street, Ipswich, branch  Picture: GOOGLEMAPS

HSBC's Tavern Street, Ipswich, branch Picture: GOOGLEMAPS

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Union leaders are seeking urgent talks with high street bank HSBC – which has branches across the UK – over plans to slash its workforce by about 15%.

Interim chief executive Noel Quinn said its global headcount will go from 235,000 to 200,000 over the next three years.

Unite, which represents nearly 20,000 HSBC staff, mainly working in branches and contact centres, including First Direct, and in back office and processing roles, said it was seeking urgent talks with HSBC bosses to discuss the "serious implications" for UK staff. The bank employs more than 40,000 people in the UK, it said.

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The bank - which has reported a 33% fall in pre-tax profit for 2019 to £10.2bn - plans to slash more than £77bn from its risk-weighted assets. Banks have to hold capital against assets, such as loans, based on their riskiness, so they can withstand it if the asset is lost.

Unite national officer for finance Dominic Hook said: "Despite HSBC still making billions of dollars of profit, once again hardworking and dedicated staff have woken up to the news that their job could be at risk.

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"Unite is seeking urgent discussions with senior management to understand the serious impact of this announcement and what it will mean for our members in the UK.

"Banks are always going on about their human face in their marketing campaigns, but it is always the frontline staff that bear the brunt of the cost-cutting, salami slicing plans - we need to draw a line in the sand over this business model."

The profits fall, which was below analysts' expectations, was due to "a goodwill impairment" of £5.6bn, HSBC said.

"This arose from an update to long-term economic growth assumptions, which impacted a number of our businesses," it said in its annual results statement.

The company has its headquarters in London but almost half its revenue and nearly 90% of profit came from Asia in 2018, mainly from Hong Kong. It warned that the outbreak of coronavirus had caused "significant disruption" for the business, and might push down lending and transactions in the China/Hong Kong region, which could reduce its revenue.

Mr Quinn said: "The group's 2019 performance was resilient, however parts of our business are not delivering acceptable returns."

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