*HSBC photo by Nicola Muirhead; Overseas istock image of model; photo montage by Gary Foster Skelton
*HSBC photo by Nicola Muirhead; Overseas istock image of model; photo montage by Gary Foster Skelton

An HSBC reshuffling has seen 19 full-time jobs at the bank eliminated in Bermuda.

At the Church Street branch alone, six people left on Friday, having been told some time ago their jobs were being axed.

Meanwhile, Catlin Insurance Company Ltd. has made four Bermudian employees redundant, as the firm outsources certain tasks to Europe.

The news come as politicians clash over the Budget, with the OBA citing signs of economic recovery and the PLP urging caution. For some Bermudians, the current reality is joblessness. 

In his Budget speech a week ago, Finance Minister Bob Richards took local banks to task for their “debilitating” lending practices and for laying people off. 

HSBC said to date, 40 per cent “of those impacted by redundancy” have been able to be “redeployed” at the bank. That would mean at least seven of the 19 whose jobs were eliminated in this particular round of redundancies have found other work at the bank.

HSBC framed the loss of the permanent jobs as part of a restructuring of their branches. The bank, according to a statement released through an HSBC spokeswoman, replaced those jobs with 21 part-time roles and several on-call positions. It’s unclear, however, exactly how the “redeployed” employees’ hours, pay and benefits were affected.

Six additional, permanent sales roles were added to the bank’s “premier banking team to support our wealth strategy and enhance our ability to connect with our customers to achieve their financial goals,” according to the HSBC statement.

Last autumn, the bank announced a spate of redundancies, but did not detail how many employees would lose their jobs. Last August, FTSE Global Markets — an independent financial publishing house —  reported that HSBC Securities Services planned on closing some of its fund administration and custody services in Bermuda, transferring such services to its European offices

HSBC announced the redundancies to the affected staff on Thanksgiving Day last year, according to one former employee. At least some of those changes, however, apparently did not take place for several months.  At the Church Street HSBC branch, six people ceased to be employed as of Friday, we were told. 

The former employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says bank tellers, personal bankers and one networks operations specialist were among those let go. 

Another former employee confirmed the Thanksgiving morning meeting, that some of the workers’ last day was last Friday and that some had found other positions in the company. This individual said some of the redundancies were revoked because the bank realized they would not have enough people to fill the necessary roles. This former worker, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the workers were being told they were being made redundant en masse, at an 8am meeting. 

“They said it was a restructuring. They said due to the economy — the way it is — your positions will be made redundant. There was no ‘thank you’ for your service. No nothing,” the former employee said. After the meeting, the employees were then offered juice and pastries, according to the employee: “I thought it was unprofessional — given the shock and disappointment of being told my services are no longer valued, what am I going to do, just sit there and have a Danish?”

HSBC says the objective of the restructuring is to  “enhance our customer experience as well as to create efficiencies within our branch network”.
HSBC said the employees who were made redundant “will benefit from our placement services — paid for by the bank — through expertise to support them as they seek alternative employment in Bermuda… Those employees impacted by this restructure have been a priority focus in exploring opportunities for redeployment,” read the statement. 

“All employees impacted had the opportunity to explore part-time and on-call roles added to the branch network, in addition to any other vacancies within HSBC locally and globally.”

The statement added: “The new sales roles added to our retail business have also given us the opportunity to promote and develop staff internally. All of the new sales roles have been filled by internal staff, all of whom are Bermudian. 

“The part-time and on-call roles have also been filled by Bermudians either internal to HSBC Bermuda or selected from the local labour market.

“We will continue to review our business model as most businesses are given the current economic climate, to ensure that we are positioned effectively to service our clients and continue to create shareholder value.”