Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I don't know that we can characterize the EIB as "running a tight ship" regarding staffing based on the graphic you display here.  From what I can see here and from glancing at their website, EIB is a mostly wholesale lender, which means it participates in or leads large lending packages for major enterprises, and it lends large amounts of money to other lenders who have the actual branch networks and retail relationships with smaller-sized borrowers. Large wholesale lending does not require very many people -- it takes roughly the same number of work hours to make a 100,000 euro loan as it does to make a 100 million euro loan or larger, so it seems misleading to chart asset size with employment.  Number of loans, not size of the loan portfolio, would be a more meaningful measurement.

I am employed, myself, by a similarly large wholesale lender of approximately the same asset size as EIB, and we engage in similar kinds of wholesale and development lending in the agricultural sector (including wind generators). Yet our staff is only about 250 people, and although we remain busy, we are certainly not overworked or stressed, especially compared to some of our more frantic peers elsewhere in the financial industry.

Does EIB also engage in direct, retail banking with small business or individuals that explain its staffing needs? 1500 people for a 50 billion euro bank makes it seem like it has to have a good-sized network of branches around the continent?  Is this so?

by santiago on Fri Sep 18th, 2009 at 01:21:12 PM EST
I'm not a banker, but I would assume banks with a public mission would have greater auditing requirements than a private bank of comparable size.

Just for comparison, Germany's state development bank KfW employs around 3500 people in all, and lends around €75bn/yr (2006). So by that standard the EIB is understaffed.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sat Sep 19th, 2009 at 05:18:55 AM EST
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Yes, if a large part of the EIB staff is engaged in things like policy analysis and non-banking related missions that is a good explanation for the high staff to asset ratio. But that does not speak at all to the efficiency of the organization which the graphic was used to argue. Instead it just says that its banking assets have increased relative to the other work it may be doing.
by santiago on Sat Sep 19th, 2009 at 03:59:13 PM EST
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I agree with that - in wholesale banking it's quite possible to have huge lending volumes with a small staff, if you take big tickets

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 19th, 2009 at 12:40:42 PM EST
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