The biggest banks are employing the fewest commodity traders, salespeople and analysts in at least four years as tighter regulations and the second drop in prices since 2001 spur cutbacks. Total headcount in commodity units at the 10 largest banks, from Goldman Sachs to Barclays, stood at 2,290 at the end of September, about 4 per cent less than at the end of last year, according to data starting in 2009 from Coalition, a London-based analytics company. Pay for those workers may drop 13 per cent on average this year, a fourth straight decline, according to Options Group, a recruitment company. Investors have pulled a record US$34.1 billion from commodity funds in the past year and prices tracked by Standard & Poor's are headed for their first annual drop since 2008. JP Morgan Chase, the biggest US lender, is seeking to sell its physical commodity business, while the US Federal Reserve is reviewing banks' control of raw-material assets and regulators are demanding more reserves to cover losses. "Commodities revenue has been hit by lower client activity and a lack of volatility, combined with enhanced capital adequacy requirements," said George Kuznetsov, the head of research at Coalition. "In 2011-12, revenue declined, mainly due to energy products, while 2013 results have been affected by significant outflows from institutional clients." Commodity revenue will drop 14 per cent to US$4.7 billion this year at the biggest banks - Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, BNP Paribas, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS - according to Coalition. Its headcount measure is based on estimates for the firms back to 2009 and some may be expanding staff and revenue. The three with the most commodity staff saw a drop on average to 330 employees in the third quarter from 350 at the end of last year, Kuznetsov said.