More Than 3200 Jobs Have Gone In Three Of Australia's Big Four Banks Over The Past Year

Getty/Peter Macdiarmid

Three of Australia’s four banking pillars employ less staff than they did a year ago, as they increase margins through efficiency measures and reduced costs.

At 31 March ANZ, which today went 0.02% better than Australia’s central bank on its standard variable home loan rate, employed 2090 fewer full time equivalent (FTE) staff at than it did 12 months earlier.

When it announced a $2.9 billion net profit on 30 April this year, ANZ boss Mike Smith said: “This outcome is a step change for ANZ. It reflects a continuing commitment to growth while also delivering sustainable productivity outcomes that provides us with ever greater earnings leverage over time.”

When it lifted the lid on its first half results to 31 March ANZ had 47,419 FTE employees, down from 49,509 a year earlier.

National Australia Bank, which yesterday also announced a $2.9 billion first-half profit, revealed it had 731 fewer FTEs since the same period last year, with its total roster now sitting at 42,668, also at 31 March.

Efficiency and cost control were also emphasised in NAB’s results presentation, with CEO Cameron Clyne saying: “In March we announced our refreshed strategic agenda to ensure that our structure is attuned to the changing economic and social landscape.”

Westpac also has fewer staff on its books. It employed 36,407 full time equivalent employees as at March 31 last year, and this number is down to 36,000 according to its latest figures.

Commonwealth Bank is the only one of the big four not knocking down staff numbers, with an unchanged 51,000 FTEs according to its last first half results figures which were released in February and cover the six months to 31 December 2012.

The current environment means there’s a strong business case for reducing staff numbers. Though Financial Services Union national secretary Leon Carter told Business Insider any company that makes the bulk of its profits off ordinary people should not simply focus on creating shareholder value.

“We are on the verge of going back into the dark days when finance workers’ jobs were just treated just like a commodity.

“They can be punted overseas on a whim.

While banks – like any public company – exist to make money for shareholders, Carter said they also needed to take their social obligations more seriously.

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