NAB to axe 6,000 jobs by 2020

The chief executive of one of Australia’s largest lenders has “no doubt” that banking will need to significantly reshape its workforce in the years ahead.

During a media conference in Melbourne last week and following the release of its full-year results, NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn explained how the bank is looking to streamline its model by shedding thousands of workers.

“What we’re doing is we’re simplifying the bank,” Mr Thorburn said, “and as we simplify, we automate processes and things move to digital channels, [so] we will need fewer people and, as that happens, we estimate that there will be 6,000 fewer people needed in three years’ time.”

The CEO believes that all big businesses in Australia, particularly incumbent businesses, will undergo a “significant” reshaping of their workforce.

“I think it’s important we face into that and we have a clear plan and we talk with our people about it,” Mr Thorburn said.

“We’re investing here to grow and drive productivity. So, it’s a very good investment story, it’s a long-term story. But there’s no doubt that our industry is going to have to significantly reshape our workforce and that’s what we’re facing into.”

However, the major bank’s transformation is also expected to create new opportunities for digitally savvy workers. NAB is looking to fill 2,000 roles across areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation.

The transition towards a more streamlined, digital bank has led NAB to create a recruitment vehicle called The Bridge to help workers into new employment.

“We’re very happy to do retraining for people who have got the aptitude and commitment to do some retraining,” Mr Thorburn said, noting that the group sees 3,000 voluntary attritions each year.

“As we simplify the bank, as transactions move more and more — which customers are driving — to digital channels, we will progressively need fewer people in certain areas.”

NAB delivered a $5.3 billion statutory net profit for the year and cash earnings were up by 2.5 per cent to $6.6 billion.

Mr Thorburn said: “We have made strong progress over the past three years and now we announce an acceleration of our strategy.

“This involves an estimated $1.5 billion increase in investment by the end of FY20 to further improve the experience for our customers, reshape our workforce and grow our bank.”

The bank is looking to shed $1 billion worth of costs by the end of FY20.

[Related: Treasurer wants more digital banks and ‘cheaper loans’]

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