US consumer banks are slashing jobs and closing branches

Bank of America

Fourth quarter earnings reports from Bank of America and Citigroup show that the banks slashed nearly 20,000 jobs or approximately 4% to 4.6% of their workforce. JPMorgan Chase reported cuts of 6,700 employees.

It wasn’t just employees getting the ax, banks are also closing down their least used branches. JPMorgan shut down 3.4% of its branches in 2015, leaving 5,413 open locations with 235,000 staffers.

Bank of America operates 129 fewer “financial centers,” (2.65%) according to its earnings report; and Citigroup shut down 4% of its branches at the end of 2015 versus the previous year.

“Often, a bank reducing headcount is a sign of layoffs and firings, but it may also be a reflection of attrition and the departure of seasonal labor,” CNBC’s Jon Marino says.

The entire industry isn’t in a state of contraction. Compliance professionals were hired by Wells Fargo and other banks. Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf said his bank is “spending a lot of money in compliance … also a lot of money on items and issues and things that create convenience for customers,” like mobile apps, according to CNBC.  It looks as though ATM’s in their new high-tech space have indeed started to replace tellers, something banks originally said wasn’t going to happen.

For employees looking for safety in their banking jobs, investment banking is on fire. Morgan Stanley added jobs in 2015, hiring 400 new staffers for a headcount of 56,218.

Goldman Sachs added even more staff on a percentage basis than Morgan Stanley. Goldman hired about 2,800 additional staff in 2015, or an 8% increase.