SEB has been recruiting private bankers, shake-up coming at Nordea

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SEB has been expanding its private banking and wealth management operations, the bank revealed in Q1 results today, indicating that demand for advisers and other specialists in this area within the Nordic region remains strong.

Some 50 new full-time employees were hired for the division over the year, compared with the same point last year.

Inevitably, the expansion has led to a sharp increase in staff costs in this area, including remuneration, which rose by 19% year-on-year and 7% quarter-on-quarter.

Staff costs overall at the bank, which reported an 11% increase in operating income, increased by 5%, with such costs within its merchant banking division up 11% year-on-year, where trading and capital markets reported a particularly strong start to the year, the bank said.

The bank revealed it had lost 1,780 employees in total year-on-year, a decline primarily down to the divestment of its German retail banking operation to Banco Santander at the end of January.

Annika Falkengren, president and chief executive officer, also warned the increasingly turbulent wider economic picture could yet have an effect going forward.

SEB's results follow figures last week from Nordea and Swedbank, with the former unveiling a new business structure to take effect from June.

The bank said it will reorganise around three main business areas: retail, wholesale and wealth management, though it was coy about what this might mean for staffing numbers, including the possibility of redundancies, simply stating that detailed planning of the new organisation would take place during this month and be announced at the beginning of June.

However, Nordea did stress that all operational elements - customer responsibility, support, products, staff and IT development - would be incorporated into these three business areas "with the clear objective to improve efficiency".

For the quarter, it reported staff costs up 14% quarter-on-quarter and 12% year-on-year.

Swedbank, meanwhile, saw staff costs rise 7% quarter-on-quarter and 4% year-on-year, with variable staff costs within its large corporates and institutions division up a robust 20% compared with the same point last year.

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