Switzerland’s 110,000 bank employees fear more bloodletting after UBS said it would cut staff by 15 per cent, a move likely to take a heavy toll on an economy heavily reliant on finance and banking.
“Now, you’re instantly afraid when someone doesn’t answer the phone or answer email,” said a Zurich-based trader at a Swiss bank.
“You ask yourself if people you have dealt with as a counterparty for years are just away from their desk, or if they’ve lost their job.”
Out of 10,000 jobs UBS plans to axe in its retreat from fixed income, 2,500 will be cut in Switzerland.
The bank has already shed more than 5,000 jobs in Switzerland after its payroll there peaked at 27,946 in 2008, adding to the tens of thousands of finance jobs globally which have disappeared since the financial crisis.
There is also a question mark over where the axe might fall at hometown rival Credit Suisse which is lopping an extra one billion Swiss francs from costs, including by cutting jobs.
“They will almost certainly have to do something as well, and nobody knows yet which departments it would hit first,” a Credit Suisse banker said.
Switzerland’s financial regulator and the central bank have argued that the collapse of a big bank could cripple the Swiss economy, which relies on the banking sector for about 7 per cent of gross domestic product and nearly 6 per cent of overall jobs, according to industry data.
At the same time, Switzerland’s $2 trillion offshore private banking industry is being roiled by pressure on banking secrecy, putting fresh pressure on staffing levels.