Barclays Bank is retraining 6,500 traditional branch staff so they can offer financial management to customers as IT increasingly takes care of day-to-day transactional services. The bank is also giving these staff an automatic annual pay rise of 2.8%.
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From 1 October traditional Barclays cashiers will adopt the role of “community bankers”. Branch staff will be equipped with iPads to help customers rather than being stationed behind a desk.
Banks have cut thousands of jobs over the last few years as a result of the recession and greater use of technology. Last year Barclays said it was cutting 1,700 frontline jobs across the UK as part of a strategy to reduce the number of branches as more and more customers use technology to do their banking.
When announcing its financial results in February, the bank said: “The number of customers using digital channels grew substantially in 2013; mobile banking usage increased by 150% to 2.3 million customers and Pingit users doubled to over 1 million customers.”
However, the digital revolution has reached a point where banks must begin to invest in staff to support and complement growth in digital services, investing in their remaining employees to carry out roles that are less transactional and more consultative.
The rapid digitisation of banking services has seen customers choosing to conduct basic transactions through a digital platform and use branches for more in-depth conversations with staff.
“We know that really helping customers requires a lot of valuable people skills and this change is about investing in our colleagues and recognising their talents,” said Steven Cooper, CEO at Barclays personal banking.
Earlier this week the British Bankers Association (BBA) announced the results of research that showed that a digital revolution is under way in retail banking. It found that every day in the UK online and mobile banking transactions worth almost £1bn are made. Transactions worth £6.4bn a week are made using the mobile and online channels in the UK, which is an increase on £5.8bn in the same study last year.
It also found that, on average, over 15,000 people in 2014 downloaded banking apps every day and online banking services got about 7 million logins on a typical day.
The use of contactless payments is also surging, with £6.1m expected to be spent every week this way in 2014 compared with £3.2m in 2013, according to the BBA report.