Blue Christmas For Finance Staff
CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, the regional brokerage unit of Credit Agricole, asked 500 senior bankers and executives to accept pay cuts of as much as 25 percent next year to avoid getting rid of jobs.
The voluntary salary reduction program that was proposed for one-third of the staff last week would reduce basic pay by 15 percent to 25 percent starting in January. The participating employees would be paid the salary they forgo and may also receive a bonus payment, when profit meets certain targets. The proposed pay cut package is similar to the one offered by CLSA in 2003 when SARS led to faltering economies in Hong Kong and China.
Singapore-based Rajiv Garg, Merrill's head of structured finance for Asia ex-Japan, left the bank on October 21 with nine members of his team. Merrill has kept three structured finance bankers in Hong Kong and Korea to manage existing exposures, but they are likely to leave in a few months.
Last month, HSBC slashed 1,100 jobs in its global banking and markets division globally, including 100 jobs in HK, while UBS also made hefty cuts to itsu fixed income and real estate teams and those focused on China IPOs in the past few months.
UBS advised bankers this month to travel economy class for flights of up to five hours, two officials at the biggest Swiss bank said, asking not to be identified because it’s an internal policy. Merrill employees have been told to travel economy for flights of as much as three hours since mid-September, two executives at the firm said.
JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank, has requested senior bankers fly economy on flights of less than three hours since late August, said an official who declined to be identified.
Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, which ceded majority control to the UK government this month, in an Oct. 16 memo asked workers worldwide to fly economy on regional routes and to cut back on travel.
HSBC Holdings Plc.’s Asia unit asked its Hong Kong department heads and branch managers to cut travel expenses by 15 percent to 20 percent next year, two officials at the bank said, citing a Sept. 23 memo sent by Chief Operating Officer Jon Addis.
HSBC is recommending China Eastern Airlines Corp., the country’s third-biggest carrier, over Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Ltd. for business trips to Shanghai, the memo said, according to the people. Europe’s biggest bank by market value cut 1,100 jobs at its global banking and markets division last month.
A round-trip business class ticket from Hong Kong to Shanghai with Dragonair costs HK$6,110 (US$788), excluding tax, almost double the best coach fare. An economy class traveler on China Eastern would pay HK$2,650.p/s photos: Nozomi Sasaki