Pace of job cuts in Swiss banking accelerated in first half of 2016: SBA

September 1, 2016 3:07 AM EDT

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's banks shed just over 1,000 jobs last year with the pace of staff cuts accelerating in the first half of 2016, although the outlook for the rest of the year was "stable", the country's banking lobby said on Thursday.

Full-time staffing levels in Switzerland fell 1 percent last year to 103,041, the Swiss Bankers Association said in its annual industry review.

Job numbers last year were hit by several foreign banks pulling out of Switzerland, the SBA said, with the number of banks in Switzerland decreasing in 2015 to 266 from 275.

However, an SBA survey also found its banks had already recorded 3,454 fewer employees in the first half of 2016, equivalent to 4.1 percent of the workforce, although "the outlook for the employment trend for the rest of the year is stable," the SBA said in a statement.

Many Swiss private banks, which for years benefited from clients bringing money to Switzerland to take advantage of the country's banking privacy rules, are struggling following a clampdown by the United States and other countries on tax evasion and increasing regulatory costs.

At an industry level, banks are under pressure to cut costs amid record-low interest rates, penalties for hoarding cash with central banks, tough financial markets and conservative trading.

Deals involving foreign banks last year included Royal Bank of Canada's sale of its Swiss private bank to Syz & Co and Union Bancaire Privee's acquisition of Switzerland-based Coutts International from Royal Bank of Scotland.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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