Deutsche Bank’s (NYSE:DB) Chief Executive John Cryan has been one of the company’s biggest proponents of job cuts over the past few years. However, the lender’s remaining 100,000 personnel may be facing a new threat from an unlikely source – robots.
Since late 2015, Deutsche Bank has embarked on a broad cost-cutting measure that has seen thousands of jobs gutted in a bid to restore profitability. Not unlike its industry rivals, the banking sector has been one of the hardest hit with profitability and revenues taking a recent dive – deep cuts have been viewed as a possible panacea.
In parallel to this, Deutsche Bank and other lenders have been pursuing a variety of technological approaches and innovative strategies to help disrupt traditional banking. An unforeseen consequence may be further cuts to personnel because of a growing reliance on robotic employees.
Robots have several advantages over humans, especially when conducting even rudimentary cost-benefit analysis. For a business intent on profits and answering to its shareholders, the idea of no bonuses, no healthcare, and minimal considerations is quite appealing. At a recent banking event in Frankfurt, Mr. Cryan suggested that a large number of his current staff could be replaced by robots and that it was important to not impede this progress.
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“We have to find new ways of employing people and maybe people need to find new ways of spending their time,” he commented in a recent report by the FT. Despite the sobering commentary, he did not explain any details of how many or precisely which jobs were in the crosshairs, only suggesting it would be a large number.
In order to sift for clues one only has to look at which jobs have already been cut en masse – this includes back-office, IT, and other traditional branch jobs. A future that includes robotic tellers at banks could be closer than some think however, especially if Deutsche Bank and other lenders are hell-bent on such a finality or invest strongly in this direction.
Mr. Cryan’s comments echoed a 2016 report from the World Economic Forum, which had predicted that automation in the banking industry would result in the loss of 5 million jobs by 2020. This could be unwelcome news for banking employees looking to survive the job cuts.