Good financial statements are wrapped in notices of redundancy
‘It is demotivating, to say the least, when top executives in major banks – regardless of profits - go out and talk about cost reductions being a way of life in the sector and that streamlining generally leads to fewer employees – as if it were a natural law’, says Chair of Finansforbundet Kent Petersen.
On 4 February, Danske Bank published financial statements with a profit after tax of almost DKK 4.6 billion. The same day, Nordea’s 2020 financial statements showed a profit of DKK 16.8 billion, which is an increase of as much as 47 per cent compared to 2019. Nykredit landed a profit after tax of DKK 5.7 billion.
Nevertheless, top executives Chris Vogelzang, Michael Rasmussen and Frank Vang-Jensen were busy telling the press that costs had to be cut and that this would mean redundancies.
‘The reality in the industry right now is that there needs to be much more of a focus on costs, and we need to do the same as other banks are doing. It’s never a nice thing to do, but it’s part of our responsibility as management to ensure our competitiveness’, the Director of Danske Bank Chris Vogelzang told FinansWatch shortly after the bank executed two rounds of firings in a short time.
Nordea has said goodbye to 11 per cent of its employees since 2017 – 950 positions disappeared just in 2020 – but the trend is not stopping now.
‘We have to expect that we will have fewer employees in the future’, Nordea’s Managing Director, Frank Vang-Jensen, told Børsen.
The employees have slaved away
Chair of Finansforbundet Kent Petersen firmly rejects the top executives’ announcements.
‘It simply has to be enough now! Why are bank directors wrapping their good financial statements in notices of redundancy? The employees have now been sitting at home and slaving away for almost 11 months. Under conditions that would challenge productivity in most places, but which have been overcome. And the employees have still performed well despite it all’, says Kent Petersen, who notes that for that reason the bank directors have been able to adjust the accounts upwards not just once, but many times over the course of the year.
‘It is demotivating, to say the least, when they go out and talk about cost reductions being a way of life in the sector and that streamlining generally leads to fewer employees – as if it were a natural law’, says Chair of Finansforbundet.
Invest in development
‘Sometimes the directors are so far removed from their employees that they forget that it is not just the investors and analysts who follow closely when the financial statements are presented’, Kent Petersen points out.
‘It matters what distancing messages you send to your people and the outside world. And I really wish that the bank directors would start investing in development instead of just signalling liquidation’, he says.