Commercial banks have accelerated staffing adjustments in the face of a tough economic outlook, according to Dau tu Chung khoan (Securities Investment).

Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) staffing level fell to just over 9,000, after the bank dismissed nearly 1,300 employees within the first nine months of this year, with more than 700 jobs slashed in the third quarter.

ACB deputy general director Nguyen Thanh Toai stated that better market conditions had enabled the bank to expand until 2012. However, it has since had to modify expansion plans and restructure its workforce to stay competitive as a result of the impact of the economic downturn.

He said that salaries at ACB had become less attractive for employees, with many people leaving the bank in search of better pay packets.

The bank reached a pre-tax profit of around 1 trillion VND (47.6 million USD) in the past year, with losses in gold trading amounting to 1.7 trillion VND (80.95 million USD).

Techcombank said it discharged around 1,000 employees in 2012 and was continuing to slim its workforce as third-quarter profits slumped nearly 84 percent over the same period last year.

The bank's earnings came in at 562 billion VND (26.76 million USD) in the first nine months, declining 66.4 percent from last year.

Eximbank chairman Le Hung Dung said late last week that the bank had terminated nearly 50 contracts, repositioned over 300 people and slashed management-level salaries in an effort to strengthen sales and boost retail activities.

He made known that the bank had been trying to reshuffle jobs and limit job cuts, a move typically undertaken by banks in periods of low profits.

Meanwhile, Sacombank staffs have reached more than 11,300 people after the bank recruited an extra 700 employees last year and more than 1,000 this year.

General director Phan Huy Khang said the bank would continue to hire as branches were showing strong growth. But he admitted that market difficulties remained and the bank would need to keep restructuring staff to ensure leaner and higher quality operations.

Compared with the market's larger lenders, staffing levels at small- and medium-sized banks remained almost unchanged this year. At the end of the third quarter, Southern Bank had 2,960 employees, shedding only 24 people from the end of 2012.

Chairman of a Ho Chi Minh City-based bank with 4 trillion VND (190.5 million USD) in equity said his bank had not changed staff numbers this year, but had reshuffled staff between different sections of the business.

Insiders say this tactic was used primarily because small banks had downsized sharply in the last few years, with many employees fired as a result of mergers and acquisitions.

Former Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Cao Sy Kiem said cutting costs was extremely important for banks in the face of high bad debt levels and sluggish credit growth.

The downsizing of banking staff is due to continue next year if market demand remains weak and business borrowing stays low.-VNA