NAB to shed jobs as automation gathers pace

Maria Nikolova

The bank expects that by FY20 it will create up to 2,000 new jobs while about 6,000 roles will be impacted as it further automates and simplifies its business.

New technologies keep advancing in the financial services sector and certain jobs are under growing threat. The latest piece of news in this respect comes from National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX:NAB), which earlier today announced that it is reshaping its workforce in line with further automation and streamlining of its business.

The bank expects that by full year 2020 it will create up to 2,000 new jobs while about 6,000 roles will be impacted by its transformation push. This will result in a net reduction in staff currently targeted at approximately 4,000 by the end of full year 2020. The change is associated with a restructuring provision of $0.5-0.8 billion for the first half of 2018.

One example of how NAB pushes into the world of automation and novel fintech is the launch of a digital virtual banker in September this year. The virtual banker is aimed at business customers, enabling them to receive instant answers and assistance with common banking questions and tasks. The virtual assistant’s artificial intelligence is derived from thousands of real-life customer enquiries. There are more than 13,000 variants of the 200 questions the virtual banker can answer; if the question can’t be answered, the customer will then be directed to a human banker.

A number of the bank’s customers were involved in the testing and development phase, with more than 75% of them saying a virtual banking was a highly desirable offering that would help them with their banking needs.

NAB’s decision about reshaping its workforce comes after similar announcements from banks from other regions. Last week, Nordea Bank AB (STO:NDA-SEK) said about 6,000 jobs will go in a transformation shift, involving further push into AI. The same trend has been observed among Japanese banks. In September this year, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (TYO:8306) said 9,500 jobs will be automated in Japan. These jobs account for about 30% of the overall headcount nationwide at MUFG’s main subsidiary, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. The company will try to move employees who have been engaged in relatively simple work into more creative roles through retraining and other measures.

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