Robots will result in Sberbank reducing back office workforce size 12 times by 2021

Maria Nikolova

Currently, back office staff at the bank is around 12,000, with the number to fall to 1,000 by 2021, mostly due to the robotization of services.

The topic of robots replacing human staff at financial services companies is far from a novel one, especially when it comes to Sberbank Rossii PAO (MCX:SBER) which in January this year said it would lay off 3,000 employees at its legal department thanks to the enrollment of a robot lawyer.

There is more gloomy news for the human staff at the bank, as Herman Gref – CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank, has unveiled further plans for workforce reduction. The number of employees in back office roles at the bank will be reduced 12 times by 2021, according to Mr Gref, who was quoted by information agency TASS.

Currently, the bank has 12,000 back office employees, with the number to be reduced to 5,000 by 2018 and to 1,000 by 2021. Back in 2011, the number was 59,000, he said.

One of the main reasons for the changes is the increased use of robots by the bank. Stanislav Kuznetsov, Deputy Chairman of Sberbank’s Executive Board noted that robots have been working at the bank’s archive department for seven years already and that now robots are replacing staff that that counts money. The next step will be the employment of android robots.

Artificial intelligence solutions are gaining ground in Russia, as Sberbank Leasing, a part of the Sberbank group of companies, announced in May that it launches a leasing program for Promobot (v2 and v3) – an autonomous robot that may replace human staff in various roles, including customer support, administration and consultation. The move is expected to boost the adoption of the solution, as the leasing makes it more affordable. Furthermore, it claims to cut expenses associated with human staff.

Russia is looking forward to a law on robotics. Early in 2017, Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the Russian State Duma, voiced his support for such a law. He said back then that rules governing the human-robot relations were expected to be implemented in 2022.

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