Belfast Telegraph

HSBC axes 20 staff here on same day as £10m fine

By Margaret Canning & Alan Jones

Banking giant HSBC is to axe 20 jobs in Northern Ireland and hundreds UK-wide in response to a “very challenging” economic environment.

The bank, which was hit by a £10.5m fine for giving “inappropriate investment advice” to elderly customers, said around 330 jobs will be lost.

But the Unite union said 551 posts will be axed, and attacked the bank for making a “disgraceful” announcement so close to Christmas.

HSBC said the cuts will affect 232 workers in its commercial bank as its regional structure “consolidates” from nine to six, 20 in the retail bank in Northern Ireland and 58 in the technology services division.

The bank operates branches in Portadown, Omagh, Belfast, Coleraine and Londonderry.

Of two branches in Belfast, the branch in Donegall Square South will close, though a Royal Avenue premises will remain open. Regional management in Northern Ireland will be moved to the north of England.

Last year it announced five new branches for the province but a spokesman confirmed yesterday that those plans had been put on hold.

Joe Garner, head of HSBC's UK Bank, said: “We are acutely aware of how difficult the economic environment is at the moment, and these decisions were only taken after long and careful consideration.

“Every effort is being made to support impacted employees and redeploy as many people as possible within the bank.”

David Fleming, Unite national officer, said: “For the hugely profitable HSBC bank to announce 551 job cuts, just three weeks before Christmas, is disgraceful. Unite has urged the bank to reconsider this decision.

“Unite strongly opposes these job cuts and is seeking redeployment for all the 551 employees. On the day when HSBC has been fined £10.5m for giving inappropriate advice to elderly |customers, it is bizarre it would choose to make staffing cuts.”

Altogether HSBC is expected to pay out £40m in fines and compensation after one of its subsidiaries sold savings products to elderly customers who were likely to die before the recommended investment period was up.

The Financial Services Authority issued its biggest ever retail fine of £10.5m to HSBC after 2,485 customers were advised to invest in “unsuitable” investment bonds between 2005 and 2010.

Belfast Telegraph