Santander cuts some 300 jobs in US branches in shift to digital

BANCO Santander has cut roughly 320 jobs in the United States as it seeks to focus more on digital operations, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Spain’s largest lender laid off about 2.7 per cent of US employees in recent days, out of a total workforce of about 11,800, according to the source, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public. The dismissals are focused on the bank’s retail operations in the country, the source said.

“We are evolving our US business, investing in digital capabilities and simplified processes to adapt to changing customer needs,” Santander said in response to questions from Bloomberg. “These steps have resulted in an update to our staffing model that impacts a small percentage of our branch colleagues. We will continue to support them throughout this process and are working to provide internal opportunities, where possible,” it said, without providing further details.

Although Santander is best known as a retail bank with large branch networks in several countries, it has been pushing in recent years to focus more on digital operations in markets where it does not have a strong position, such as the US. Its main retail markets include Spain, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

The job cuts come even as Santander expands its investment bank in the US, with some 200 hires over the past year or so. The lender has sought to take advantage of a wave of layoffs on Wall Street to attract bankers, notably from Credit Suisse, as it seeks to gain heft and provide existing corporate clients better services, in line with what it already offers in other countries.

Santander’s US business is best known for its auto financing operations but it also operates as a retail bank with branches across nine states on the east coast. The network is mostly a result of the acquisition of Sovereign Bancorp more than a decade ago. The bank last year hired Christiana Riley, a longtime Deutsche Bank executive, as head of its North American and Mexican operations.

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