State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Rajnish Kumar on Thursday said the lender is likely to end FY18 with a smaller workforce than what it began the year with. “When you have such a vast and diverse client base as SBI, the need for human interface will always be there. But, if you ask me, it (employee count) was 278,000 at the beginning of this year, will it remain 278,000? It is unlikely,” Kumar said, adding, “Some cost efficiencies have to definitely come in as a result of whatever we are doing on the technology and digital front.” SBI spends around Rs 4,000 crore a year on technology; this does not include ATM expenditure. The spend has been increasing year-on-year, Kumar said.
SBI is not the first bank were jobs have been hit by technology. Between September 2016 and September 2017, HDFC Bank’s headcount dropped to 86,543 from 95,002. Paresh Sukthankar, deputy MD, said on October 24 that the September 2016 figure was a peak and the bank had cut its workforce in later quarters. Q2FY18 actually saw headcount rise from end-June’s 83,750. In September 2017, Yes Bank was reported to have let go about 2,500 people, accounting for over 10% of its workforce, citing redundancies, poor performance and the impact of digitisation as reasons.