WBank branches, fewer bankers – in most European Union countries, this trend, which has been evident since the 2008 financial crisis, continues. This is shown by the latest preliminary figures of the European Central Bank (ECB) for the year 2018, which the central bank published in Frankfurt on Tuesday.
As a result, the number of branches decreased by an average of 7.5 percent compared to the previous year. The number of bank employees declined by 2.3 percent. However, the ECB points out that not all 28 EU countries have all data yet.
According to ECB statistics, at the end of 2018 there were still some 135,000 domestic branches of banks in the euro area countries. A year earlier, it was just over 143,000. The number of bank employees fell in the 19 states with the common currency from around 1.91 million to just over 1.85 million. EU-wide, this number fell from 2.74 million to just under 2.67 million.
In Germany – traditionally a contested banking market – the number of branches decreased according to information within one year from a good 30,000 to almost 27,900. Just under 565,000 people worked at domestic banks at the end of last year. A year earlier, there were 597,319.
Just how comparatively ragged the German market is with its three-pillar system of private, public-sector and cooperative banks is evidenced by another number: measured by the balance sheet volume, the five largest institutions together only have a market share of 29.1 percent. In other EU countries, such as France (47.8 percent) or Spain (68.5 percent), this figure is significantly higher. In Greece, the share of the top five in the total assets of banks is even close to 97 percent.
According to the ECB figures, the number of spin-offs from banks in other EU states has risen from 86 to 92. This could also be related to Brexit, as the EU's intention to leave the EU is forcing many institutions to reorient themselves.