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Terminations/Cost Cutting

The 7% Solution: Fewer Fixed Income Traders at Big Banks

February 10, 2017

[Photo: by Hannelore Foerster / Bloomberg]


Headcount at top global banks' fixed income, currency and commodity (FICC) desks fell 7% last year, despite a boost in trading from the surprising Brexit vote and U.S. election outcome. Tighter regulation and cost-cutting since the financial crisis and more automated trading has reduced business for big banks in these markets, leading to attrition in staffing levels.


According to industry analytics firm, Coalition, the aggregated number of front office staff - covering sales, trading, and research - at the top 12 global banks fell to 17,479 in 2016, down from 18,755 the year before and nearly 25% lower than in 2012.


As for the pick-up in business resulting from interest-rate volatility last year, banks saw that as a one-off and had therefore not increased headcount based on that.


Once again, the staffing cuts were bigger at European banks.


  • Headcount at the top 7 banks fell nearly 9% from 2015 to 8,119 and is down 30% from 11,650 in 2012.
  • Front office FICC headcount at the top 5 U.S. banks fell 5% to 9,360, down 16% from 2012.