Lloyds Bank cuts risk dept headcount

Lloyds Bank cuts risk dept headcount

UK high street bank Lloyds Bank is reducing the size of its risk management department because it is seen as a “blocker” to the bank’s “strategic transformation”.

The Financial Times reported that a memo sent last month to the bank’s staff by chief risk officer Stephen Shelley, outlined the intention to revamp the risk department.

The memo also included the apparent justification for the job-cuts, namely that two-thirds of the bank’s executives believe risk management was blocking progress.

“We know people are frustrated by time-consuming processes and ingrained ways of working that impede our ability to be competitive and leave us lagging behind our peers,” stated the memo.

The idea that risk management is a disabler of innovation and profit-generation is a notion that risk managers have long had to deal with.

This was evident in the financial crisis of 2008 when banks continued to invest in sub-prime lending despite the warnings from risk managers and their models.

Consequently, the risk management world has looked to spread the message that sound risk management can also generate revenue by allowing banks to take appropriate action based on more accurate modelling and knowledge of exposures.

However, according to Shelley’s memo, less than half of the Lloyds workforce believe that “intelligent risk-taking is encouraged”.

In a statement from the bank to the Financial Times, it said that the reorganisation will result in 45 “role reductions” after the new roles being created are factored in. The bank also stated that there will be “upskilling” in parts of the business.

The Financial Times also quoted a person “familiar with the restructuring” who said that around 175 permanent roles could be axed, 150 of which are in the risk division. However, the bank is planning to introduce 130 new jobs focused on specialist risk and technical expertise.

The move was criticised by the independent trade union, BTU, which represents Lloyds’ workers.

General secretary Mark Brown said the bank was “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” given that the bank is currently facing a regulatory probe into potential misselling of car loans and has set aside £450m for potential fines.

Comments: (3)

Peter Bayley
Peter Bayley - Floating Blue Ltd - Chippenham 10 April, 2024, 21:021 like 1 like

There are many reasons to cut jobs in Risk - automation, improved detection capabilities, restructure between functions, globalisation etc. etc.  could all be legitimate.

But positioning a reduction in staff because Risk is seen as a 'blocker' to strategic change, sounds like a mangement issue, not a departmental structure one.

If process is poor, then you invest in the systems and capabililities; not remove the folks who have been forced to work to poor process and position them as 'blocking' profitability.

Risk should always be a challenge function.  They should be pointing out the risks from change, as well as those from the status quo. 

Risk is the function that asks the emperor what he/she has done with his/her clothes, when everyone else is congratulating them on their elegance and style.

Either there is much more to this story than is being reported here, or Lloyds is taking a somewhat odd  position. 

I have no idea what Lloyds' new strategy is - but perhaps they should be checking whether things havent turned a little chilly around the rear end....

Robert Burch
Robert Burch - Independent Consultant - Cotswolds 11 April, 2024, 10:14Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Completely agree Peter.  This is either a very odd decision or a badly worded announcement.  Knowing the risk of doing anything is vital.  That knowledge should then be used to calculate the reward necessary to justify the risk.  If the reward looks unachievable, then the risk should not be taken.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 11 April, 2024, 14:43Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Kudos to Lloyds Bank. I don't recall any other bank anywhere in the world taking such a public and explicit stance on what has always been well known in business: Mitigating risk does not pay the bills.

Screening for risk is okay in loan approval, credit card authorization, and other transactional areas but too much risk sensitivity blocks strategic transformation. Most often, risk professionals lack the competence to analyze risk in the TO-BE transformed state in a rigorous manner, so they lean towards blocking the transformation as CYA strategy.

Too much risk sensitivity is one big reason why banks have lagged fintechs in product and UX. I'm not saying banks should mimic fintechs' products and UX but, if that's what they want to do, downsizing risk department headcount is the way to go.