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Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays

The British bank said the increasing migration of customers to digital channels was a big reason in reducing staff levels in branches.



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.

[Related Content: Barclays Announces Resignation of Senior Compliance and IT Executives]

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 a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
11/19/2013 | 4:37:56 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
That's not going to calm the nerves of other financial services line employees, like insurance agents. But it's not then first industry to be displaced by tech innovation.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2013 | 7:56:06 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
Yes, with a more service-based as opposed to transaction-based setup.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2013 | 7:13:33 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
Banks are still going to need branches to some extent. There's been a trend recently of designing smaller branches will become more popular so banks can still have a physical presence while cutting costs.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2013 | 6:56:28 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
When I think of all the bank branch locations... this country will have a lot of commercial real estate to deal with if banks start aggressively closing branches because of mobile. What an interesting connection.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2013 | 5:05:27 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
They didn't say, though since they are closing two call centers it's a possibility. Or, they could just keep the same branches open and be pursuing more self service channels in them.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2013 | 3:51:48 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
Will there be any branch closings along with staff cuts? No matter the convenience of mobile there are some things I will go to the branches to have addressed by experienced staff. And there's always a wait, with less staff I foresee longer waiting times and more frustrations.

I'd be interested in seeing the # of branch walk-ins and calls over the months and years, compared with the increase of mobile usage.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 8:39:55 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
Yes and I expect that eventually technology will enable conversations with remote experts that will lead to further staff cuts in servicing those channels.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 6:23:14 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
Very true, though there's no denying that the consistent rise of self-service channels will mean less jobs in branches/call centers.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 4:16:56 PM
re: Rise in Mobile Led to Branch Staff Cuts: Barclays
Is there a point being missed here (by Barclays)? If the branch is the only place where customers consistently can receive "high levels of services that customers of the bank benefit from", as Hook says -- then even as mobile/digital channels grow the outlook is not good for the bank. It's imperative on all banks to probably improve service levels -- and certainly personalization & responsiveness -- across the emerging digital channels. They are probably more about engagement than the branch ever was.
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