job cuts

Barclays has announced 1,700 frontline staff job cuts as it seeks to focus on delivering services through online and mobile channels.

The bank said in a statement that it is responding to technological change spurred by the increased use of smartphones by customers, resulting in the need for greater levels of automation in its business. As a result it would target “overcapacity” at its network of 1,600 branches through a voluntary redundancy scheme for customer-facing staff.

“The way in which our customers access their banking services is changing rapidly. More and more people are choosing to use smart phones and technology for everyday transactions - using branches only when they need access to expertise,” a spokesperson for the bank said. 

“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.”

The spokesperson added: “As a result of technological changes, we will be able to provide better service for our customers with fewer staff in our branches.”

Barclays recently outlined continued investment in technology as part of its company-wide cost saving programme Transform cost, aiming to help reduce overall spend and enhance customer offerings. The bank currently provides a range of online services to customers, including cloud document storage, and has invested in its mobile channel with the launch and development of the PingIt payments platform.

However, earlier this month the bank was forced to apologise as customers experienced problems with its online banking services due to an IT glitch, with many unable to access account information or receive payments.

Trade union Unite said that the focus on technology would negatively impact levels of customer service at the bank going forward.

“The decision to move to increased automation across bank branches is incredibly significant for all bank users,” the union said in a statement. “Unite has 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.”

The bank also announced last week that it would close one of its call centres in Coventry, affecting 350 staff, and said in September that IT staff were not ruled out of job cuts being made at its wealth management division as a result of increased investment in technology.

Barclays announced earlier this week that chief technology officer Shaygan Kheradpir, who was involved in the launch of PingIt, is leaving to join networking firm Juniper as CEO.