Australian banks may scrap 7000 jobs in the next two years as the nation's lenders cut costs to offset the weakest credit growth since World War II, according to UBS.

Lenders will reduce total staff numbers by 3.9 per cent to 172,000 from 179,000, according to a research note by Sydney-based UBS analysts.

Those figures did not include Australia & New Zealand Banking Group's Asian staff, they said.

The focus on employment costs at banks mirror the challenge faced around the world by lenders battling slower revenue growth amid weak household and business confidence.


Analysts believe most industry-wide cuts will result from natural attrition rather than redundancies.

But ANZ Banking Group will be the exception, slashing about 1000 jobs over the next six months as a quick fix, designed to relieve pressure from analysts and investors about the bank's burgeoning cost base.

ANZ told 130 staff on Tuesday that their jobs would be axed.

A spokesman for ANZ New Zealand said the bank had no plans for company-wide redundancies in New Zealand this year.

"The New Zealand economy has continued to rebalance, with households and businesses repaying debt and strengthening their financial position," he said.

"As a result it is likely that the strong credit growth we saw in the past will be more subdued in the future."

The situation in Europe was not helping the pricing or availability of funding "however ANZ New Zealand has continued to strengthen its balance sheet and is in good shape".

A spokeswoman for ASB said the bank had no present plans for major staff reductions.


"New Zealand is experiencing similar pressures to those in the Australian market, however we have been operating under these conditions for a longer period," she said.

The bank had noted that term funding costs were higher than last year.

"As New Zealand banks access the term markets to replace maturing debt, this will inevitably increase the average wholesale funding costs for banks," she said.

"ASB has been able to mitigate some of this impact so far due to our strong deposit growth."

Massey University Centre for Financial Services and Markets associate professor David Tripe said credit growth in New Zealand had slowed down. "So that immediate cause is not going to rise to the same extent in the New Zealand context," Tripe said.

"The banks in New Zealand are staffed more leanly and probably staffed more cheaply so that may in turn have an impact on what might happen in New Zealand as well," he said.

"So that means that there's going to be ... that much less in the way of pressure to cut staff in New Zealand."

New Zealand banks were operating on a fairly low cost basis so the ability to strip large amounts of costs out was quite limited, Tripe said.

"I certainly wouldn't completely rule out job losses in New Zealand but I don't think that's the biggest issue that the banking sector faces."

The biggest issue was sorting out some long-run profitability, which was significantly constrained by what was happening in broader global economic terms, he said.

Kiwibank communications manager Bruce Thompson said the bank, which employs about 1000 people, was in a strong growth phase.

"We're in significant growth and while you can never rule out the possibility of structural changes what they're talking about in Australia does not apply to what's happening within Kiwibank."

To help spur borrowing, the Australian central bank lowered the benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point in November and December as Europe's debt crisis dimmed prospects for global growth.

Zurich-based UBS estimates housing credit grew from 1977 to 2010 at a 14 per cent annual pace, and is currently expanding at 5.7 per cent, the weakest rate since World War II.

UBS said reducing headcount to 172,000 "should help absorb underlying wage increases keeping total staff expenditure growth to around 1 per cent per annum."