Nordea CEO Signals Headcount Is Still Too High Despite Deep Cuts

Even in one of the richest corners of the world, banking is a shrinking business.

Nordea Bank Abp, the largest financial conglomerate in the Nordics, has cut headcount by more than 10% since 2016, with the wholesale unit (investment banking and trading) bearing the brunt in recent years. But there’s more to come.

“There will still be a lot of people working at the bank,” Chief Executive Officer Frank Vang-Jensen said in a recent interview. “But there will probably be fewer in the future. The trend will be clear.”

Nordea CEO Signals Headcount Is Still Too High Despite Deep Cuts

Shortly after starting as CEO in 2019, Vang-Jensen singled out Nordea’s Large Corporates and Institutions business as a unit that needed to operate much more efficiently. By the end of 2020, about a quarter of Nordea’s LC&I staff had lost their jobs (that includes Nordea’s decision to wind down its Russian business).

Vang-Jensen has stepped up the pace of cuts as he faces pressure from shareholders to deliver higher returns.

Nordea CEO Signals Headcount Is Still Too High Despite Deep Cuts

Meanwhile, asset management and retail banking have been shielded from the worst, and Nordea has even added some jobs to corners of the bank that service small and mid-sized businesses.

But Vang-Jensen isn’t about to let overall costs rise. He even says he’s looking into cutting Nordea’s travel budget in the post-pandemic world.

“We will organize teams in a slightly different way, so that we don’t have so many multi-country teams,” he said. “We have it in the back of our heads: how can we organize ourselves so that we’re not dependent on travel as much.”

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