RBS said to cut 550 jobs as it replaces face-to-face service with 'robo-advisers'

A man walking past a branch of The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in central London on Aug 27, 2014.
A man walking past a branch of The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in central London on Aug 27, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) plans to cut about 550 jobs as it scales back in-person advice to certain customers seeking investments and insurance, according to a person briefed on the moves.

Some clients will be directed to a new online investing platform to keep their business with the bank commercially viable, the person said.

The shift affects people with less than £250,000 (S$494,000) to invest and will eliminate about 220 workers who helped provide such advice, the Financial Times wrote on Sunday, without saying where it got the information.

"Our customers increasingly want to bank with us using digital technology," RBS said in a statement. "As a result, we are scaling back our face-to-face advisers and significantly investing in an online investing platform that enables us to help a new group of customers with as little as 500 pounds to invest."

Chief executive officer Ross McEwan has been eliminating thousands of jobs as he cuts expenses and focuses on consumer lending in the UK and Ireland to improve earnings after eight straight annual losses.

 

The bank is scaling back its in-person advice as many younger, cost-sensitive investors already are flocking to automated services, such as so-called robo-advisers that use algorithms to make recommendations.

The firm also is overhauling how it advises customers on critical-illness and life insurance. That push will cost about 200 jobs, according to the FT.

"Due to the gradual decline in the number of customers in our protection business, this service will now be available over the telephone," RBS said. The bank "will proactively contact all customers to ensure a smooth transition."