Irish banks have shed 50% of staff since crash

Bank of Ireland currently working on plans to cut around 15% of managers and executives

A recent move from Bank of Ireland could lead to the loss of up to 200 jobs across Ireland and the UK. Photographer: Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg

Employee numbers in Ireland's banking industry have fallen by almost 50 per cent in the years since the financial crash, research from The Irish Times has found.

The research follows news from that Bank of Ireland is working on plans to cut around 15 per cent of the group’s managers and executives in a move that could ultimately lead to the elimination of up to 200 jobs across Ireland and the UK.

Since 2008, over 26,000 jobs across Irish banks have been lost in a decade of unprecedented restructuring as bailed-out lenders’ businesses contracted, overseas-owned lenders such as Bank of Scotland, Danske Bank and Accbank retreated from the market and Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide imploded.

Jobs cull

Those figures tally with an estimation from Ireland’s Financial Services Union that restructuring has lead to the elimination of 25,000 jobs in the industry.


The largest job cull happened in AIB which reduced staff numbers from 25,919 at the end of 2008 to 10,137 by December 31st 2017. Some of those losses are attributable to the bank’s sale of its Polish interest, Bank Zachodni WBK, to Spanish bank Banco Santander in 2010.

AIB sold its 70 per cent stake in the bank for €3.1 billion in an effort to bolster its balance sheet which was, at the time, depleted by Ireland’s economic slump and property loan losses.

Since then the bank has restructured a number of functions including its IT systems which also contributed to a reduction in employee numbers.

Tech overhaul

Ireland’s largest bank by employee numbers, Bank of Ireland, has seen a less marked reduction in its staff headcount, dropping from 16,026 in 2008 to 10,892 at the end of December last year.

A sweeping project to overhaul its technology systems at the bank is expect to result in a further reduction of employee numbers while the almost 6,000 jobs lost in the last 10 years came as a result of restructuring.

In a similar vein to AIB and Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank Ireland has lost staff over the last 10 years. Headcount at the bank fell from 3,562 in 2008 to 2,337 by the end of last year. Permanent TSB, the last of the five main Irish retail banks to return to profitability since the industry nearly collapsed during the financial crisis, saw employee numbers drop but only slightly. Headcount fell from 2,573 in 2008 to 2,519 by the end of last year.

One of the main retail banks in the Republic increased its headcount in the period. KBC Bank, which is looking to increase its share of the Irish market, grew staff numbers from 518 in 2008 to 1,057 last year.

At least 5,000 jobs have been permanently lost from the industry on account of the withdrawal of Bank of Scotland, Ireland, Accbank and Rabo Bank and Danske Bank. Similarly, the failure of Irish Nationwide and Anglo Irish Bank dented numbers with the fall of the latter resulting in around 1,864 job losses since 2008.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business