November 15, 2013

Barclays said the rise of digital channels, specifically mobile, is a significant factor in the large-scale branch layoffs set to be enacted next year.

The London-based bank yesterday informed about 1,700 employees, mostly customer-facing branch staff, their jobs would be cut throughout 2014. Impacted positions include cashiers, personal bankers, operational specialists, branch managers and assistant managers.

In a statement, Barclays said the cuts were due to changes in the way its customers access banking services.

"More and more people are choosing to use smart phones and technology for everyday transactions - using branches only when they need access to expertise," the bank stated. "We are responding by investing in the channels that customers are increasingly using, whilst improving customer service. This means training staff so they can provide that expert support but also reducing staffing levels in our branches where there is over capacity."

Barclays' issued the statement in response to Unite, the union representing staff at Barclays Bank, which termed the layoffs " a colossal mistake." Unite had argued that Barclays customers want well-staffed branches and would prefer to deal with the "highly trained and professional staff" that currently service their branches.

"These employees deliver high levels of service that customers of the bank benefit from," said Domnic Hook, national officer for Unites, in a statement. "Such a massive reduction will be very detrimental to the bank and will also be hugely challenging for the staff remaining. Consumers want to engage with knowledgeable, highly experienced, professional staff."

Last week, Barclays also announce plans to close two call centers, which could result in the loss of 600 additional jobs.

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Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...