Job losses at Europe's biggest banks have been reduced by less than a half in 2014, but the banks are expected to shrink their headcount further, as they look to reduce costs to improve profitability amid tougher regulations.

Almost 18 of Europe's biggest banks cut a combined 21,500 jobs last year, but that was less than half of the 56,100 jobs cut at the same banks in 2013, Reuters reported citing in-house data.

Meanwhile, six of the biggest banks in the US cut a total of 37,500 jobs in 2014, compared to 45,700 in 2013.

The 24 biggest banks in the US and Europe axed more than 160,000 jobs in the past two years. The six US banks shed 7.3% of staff in the period, against 4.1% for Europeans banks.

The biggest cuts in 2013 were made by banks in the US, Britain, Italy and Spain. Royal Bank of Scotland shed 10,000 staff in 2014 and is expected to cut 14,000 jobs by 2019, as it sells overseas businesses and shrinks its investment banking further.

Barclays shed 7,300 jobs in 2013 as part of group chief executive Antony Jenkins's three-year plan to cut 19,000 staff.

US banking giants JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America have all made significant job cuts in recent years, as they look to restructure operations after the 2008 financial crisis.

"A handful of banks globally have really looked at structural change and taken a big cut from their cost base. The majority have done some tactical and convenient belt-tightening to take out costs, but without really fundamentally changing how they operate or their business model," Aymen Saleh, managing director at Boston Consulting Group in London, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

As profits are squeezed due to rising costs and people increasingly opt for internet banking, banks across the globe are closing branches and laying off staff.