In an effort to concentrate more on digital operations, Spanish bank Santander has laid off 320 positions in the US.

Following the layoffs, roughly 2.4% of the 13,489 employees of the euro zone’s second-largest bank by market value were let go from the bank’s group activities in the US, according to Reuters.

In order to adjust to shifting client demands; the lender was modernising its US operations by making investments in digital capabilities and streamlining procedures.

Action is being taken in anticipation of Santander’s summer rollout of a fully digital platform in the US for its consumer and commercial divisions.

The business seeks to increase its investment banking business in the United States, where its subsidiary, particularly its consumer section, has suffered from loan losses and rising funding costs.

When approached by PBI, a Santander spokesperson replied: “We are evolving our U.S. business, investing in digital capabilities and simplified processes to adapt to changing customer needs. 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.”

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Moreover, Santander first entered the US retail and private banking sector in 2005 when it acquired a stake in Sovereign Bancorp, then the 18th-largest bank in the US.

Santander acquired full ownership of Sovereign in 2010, paying $1.9bn for the 75% it did not already own. It re-branded from Sovereign to Santander in 2013.

Branch numbers peaked in 2007 at 807 outlets, Since then, Santander has been steadily shrinking its US branch network and now operates a network of 439 branches.

Over 2023, Santander recruited over 4,500 professionals with digital skills to aid the group’s transformation.

The growing demand for these types of employees led to Santander launching a targeted recruitment strategy under the Be Tech! with Santander programme.

Thanks to the initiative, the bank now holds 27,500 STEM professionals in its 10 core markets across Europe and the Americas.

In addition, the main goal on the initiative was to attract and retain technology talent to support the bank’s vision in becoming the best open financial services platform and also accelerate its digital transformation.