Wall Street hires more bankers despite economic gloom

The Empire State Building and One World Trade Center rise above Manhattan as seen from an apartment in the Central Park Tower building as the building celebrates its topping out in New York, U.S. September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK, Oct 14 (Reuters) - When Jamie Dimon was asked by an analyst on Friday if his bank would wait to hire employees for lower pay as the economy slows, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) had a blunt answer: "No."

The largest U.S. lender's workforce swelled 9% to 288,474 in the third quarter from a year earlier as it added staff in its consumer, investment banking and asset and wealth management businesses. Compensation expenses rose 16% to $10.5 billion.

Dimon isn't alone. Citigroup Inc (C.N) increased its headcount to 238,000, up 8% from a year earlier, while its compensation and benefits rose 11%, according to results also released on Friday. "We continue to invest in building out our teams for long-term growth opportunities, including health care, technology and energy," Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said. "And I'm really pleased with the high-caliber bankers who are attracted to both our platform and our culture."

While Wall Street powerhouse Morgan Stanley (MS.N) boosted its ranks by 11% to 81,567, compensation at the firm fell 5%.

"We're looking at headcount," James Gorman, Morgan Stanley's chief executive officer, told analysts in a conference call.

Separately, Morgan Stanley's chief financial officer in an interview said that the company is "constantly evaluating" its resources, and "when we think about headcount, we always think of it relative to the economic environment."

Wells Fargo bucked the hiring trend, trimming staff by 6% to 239,209.

Goldman Sachs (GS.N), which will report its third-quarter earnings next week, began a round of job cuts in September, targeting about 500 jobs. Other investment banks including Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) have also cut a small number of U.S. jobs.

The culls come as a darkening economic outlook and rising U.S. interest rates weighed heavily on dealmaking businesses.

Reporting by Lananh Nguyen and Saeed Azhar; Editing by Mark Porter

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