Horror run of job cuts continues as BNP Paribas swings axe in Hong Kong and Singapore

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If you thought that the terrible spate of job cuts in Asian equities had finally run its course, think again. Yet another bank – this time it’s BNP Paribas – is axing equities roles, and yet more positions could be in the firing line across the sector this year.

The French firm is cutting most of its Asia equity research team in Hong Kong and Singapore, resulting in at least 12 analysts in those cities losing their jobs, reports Bloomberg, quoting unnamed sources. In a major shakeup of its Asian equities operations, BNP Paribas will instead take research content from Morningstar under a new partnership arrangement. BNP Paribas declined to comment on the layoffs.

In most job sectors, redundancies on the scale of BNP Paribas’ wouldn’t be particularly alarming – but Asian equities is an exception. Only a few weeks ago Morgan Stanley culled about half a dozen mid-level equity sales, trading and research jobs in Asia, as part of a global cost-cutting drive. In April, Nomura trimmed eight people from its Singapore equities research team under a new plan to scale back outside of Japan.

This year’s redundancies at BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Nomura follow a three-year period of layoffs in Asian equities, and they suggest the jobs rout still isn’t over. Deutsche Bank made cuts to its Asian equities team last year, while Credit Suisse culled dozens from its regional equities operations in 2017. Barclays, along with several other banks, trimmed Asian equities jobs in 2016, while Standard Chartered has shuttered its team altogether.

“Equities desks are still shrinking in Asia, and ever-increasing automation also continues to lurk in the background,” Matt Hoyle, a Hong Kong-based trader-turned headhunter, told us in May. Continued sporadic job cuts are likely over the next 12 months, he adds.

Within Asian equities research, jobs are also under threat because of Europe’s MiFID II regulations, which force banks to independently price analyst work rather than combine it with trading commissions. The BNP Paribas-Morningstar deal was partly driven by MiFID II pressures.

“With recent changes in regulatory and market conditions, banks have sought to adapt their sellside cash equity research models, while continuing to meet clients’ needs,” says a statement from BNP Paribas about the Morningstar deal. “In this context, BNP Paribas’ announcement pioneers a new and innovative model in APAC that is sustainable and scalable, while enabling it to continue to provide clients with high quality, fundamental research.”

Meanwhile, if you’ve already lost your Asian equities job this year, you should “either join a very established franchise – such as Citi or JP Morgan – or focus your efforts on the buyside”, says Hoyle.

Or you could try…Morningstar. The firm plans to add six people to its 19-strong team of Asian equities analysts, who are based in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Singapore and Tokyo, according to Bloomberg.

Image credit: Clearphoto, Getty

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