Staff cuts "inevitable" as Swift contends with declining volumes

Staff cuts "inevitable" as Swift contends with declining volumes

Lazaro Campos, Swift chief executive, says that headcount reductions at the banking co-operative will be inevitable as the company contends with declining traffic volumes and bids to improve efficiency levels by 30% and cut 20% from its worldwide operational costs over the next year.

Speaking at a press conference held at Swift's annual user forum in Hong Kong, Campos said that the co-operative has employed consultancy group McKinsey to run the rule over the company's business processes under an intensive 18-month 'lean and mean' operational review.

Swift has set its sights on stripping EUR120 million out of its overall running costs of EUR600 million per annum and improving efficiency levels by 30% in 2010, compared to 2008.

Pointing out that 60% of the costs of running Swift are spent on staffing, Campos said that it would not be possible for the company to achieve its goals without headcount reductions. "It's a tough thing to do, but it's the right thing to do," he said.

"We will review every process in the company," he added. "If our customers will pay for it, we keep it. If they won't pay for it, we get rid."

The move to cut costs comes as Swift prepares to report a decline in year-on-year traffic volumes for the first time in its 37-year history. Year-to-date traffic volumes are two-and-half per cent down on last year and 11% off the projected forecast for the year.

In the near-term, the company is forecasting single-digit traffic growth of six per cent next year, much of which will come from Asia Pacific and the securities business.

Swift chairman Yawar Shah, says the Society is consulting with 100 of its member banks to forge a longer-term strategy that will take the business to 2015. As the future blueprint is drawn up, Shah says Swift sees opportunities to expand its role in risk management, in the shared services space and by extending its franchise into national domestic markets.

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