Finance

Elaine He oversees Bloomberg Gadfly's data visualization work in Europe and also pursues her own columns combining business and markets coverage. Before joining Bloomberg, she was a graphics editor at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

If the crisis didn't get you, the robots might.

Weak revenue and negative interest rates aren't the only reason European banks are cutting jobs. Technology is playing its part, too. With mobile banking, who needs to visit a bank teller?

On Monday, ING announced plans to eliminate almost 6,000 jobs and invest 800 million euros ($898 million) in its digital platforms. That brings the total cuts announced in the past year to about 50,000, according to Bloomberg data.

Reducing Resources
In the last year, a handful of European banks have announced about 50,000 job cuts
Source: Bloomberg
Note: Calculation on share of workforce refers to Q1 2016 for ING and Q2 2016 for all others

The Dutch lender won't be the last to ax employees. Banks in Britain and Spain are already pushing their digital offerings. Truculent labor unions may mean France's Societe Generale and BNP Paribas will take a little longer to prune their sprawling branch networks, but they will surely do so.

It's tough to guess how many more jobs will go across the industry, says Jonathan Tyce, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. But he reckons 10 percent isn't unreasonable, and that's before you consider what blockchain may do.

This chart, based on data compiled by Bloomberg, shows how far headcount in the industry has shrunk since 2008.

Cutting Trend
In the eight years since the financial crisis, European banks have shrunk their headcount
Source: Bloomberg Intelligence
Note: Latest employee figure is compared with 2007 data for Credit Suisse and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken

Some of the changes can be attributed to M&A: BNP acquired Fortis, while ING sold its insurance operations, for example. But the direction of travel is clear.

--With assistance from Gadfly's Edward Evans

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Elaine He in London at ehe36@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jennifer Ryan at jryan13@bloomberg.net