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As problems in China grow, investment banks prepare for additional job cuts across Asia.

Investment Banks Brace for More Job Cuts in Asia

China Woes Mount as Investment Banks Prepare for Job Cuts

As China’s economic and market turmoil deepens, western investment banks in Asia are bracing for an increase in job cuts this year, according to headhunters and bankers. While prospects for deals are improving in Japan and India, pressure on revenue is expected to drive more layoffs in key regional investment banking hubs like the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

Bank Closures and Staff Reductions

U.S. boutique bank Lazard announced the closure of its Beijing office, resulting in layoffs and relocations to Hong Kong. Similarly, Rothschild disbanded its Shanghai-based team in the fourth quarter, and Bank of America announced job cuts of over 20 bankers in Asia. These closures and staff reductions are indicative of the challenges faced by investment banks in the region.

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Impact of China’s Economic Situation

China’s stock markets hitting five-year lows and a slower-than-expected recovery from the pandemic have heightened investor concerns and negatively impacted domestic demand outlook for companies. Geopolitical tensions have also led to foreign investors moving away from the region, further exacerbating the challenges faced by investment banks.

Financial Institutions’ Workforce Reductions

Financial institutions in Asia reduced their workforce by an average of 20% in the previous year, with some experiencing the highest level of reductions since the 2008 financial crisis. Over 400 investment bankers lost their jobs in Hong Kong, mainly focused on China deals, highlighting the severity of the situation.

Challenges and Opportunities in Other Asian Markets

While China deals face uncertainties, bankers are looking towards a promising deals pipeline from India to Japan to offset the impact of China’s slowdown. However, they acknowledge that fee income growth will remain challenging in the near term, with Japan and India offering potential but not without their own set of challenges.

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Outlook for India’s Investment Banking Sector

Rahul Saraf, head of India investment banking at Citigroup, is optimistic about India’s revenue growth, estimating a 15% to 25% increase for the industry. With several multibillion-dollar transactions on the horizon, India’s investment banking sector holds promise, although it may not completely replace China or other key markets.

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