RBS plans 30,000 job cuts, IT roles not ruled out

Matthew Finnegan

IT roles could be affected as the Royal Bank of Scotland prepares to announce up to 30,000 job cuts over the next three to five years.

The bank, which is 81 percent owned by the government, is planning a major restructuring of its business that will see a significant reduction in headcount as it downsizes its corporate and investment banking arms, according to the Financial Times.

11,000 jobs are expected to be lost at its investment division, part of plans to move away from the US and Asian markets. Finance, risk and accounting job are also expected to go.

The sale of its US retail and commercial bank, Citizens, is also expected to result in 18,500 jobs being removed.

The Telegraph suggested that the proposed job cuts could fund increased investment in IT systems, as the bank seeks to increase automation across its branches and prevent recurrences of major outages that have affected customers in recent years.

The reports follow mounting speculation that RBS' business restructuring initiative, dubbed Project Cook, will result in thousands of jobs being cut. An official announcement is expected to be made in the bank's full year financial results next week.

RBS declined to comment on the reports, and was unable to rule out IT jobs being affected by this latest round of cuts.

IT staff have been affected by previous restructuring initiatives since RBS received a £45.5 billion taxpayer-backed bailout in 2008, with employee headcount reduced by 40,000 to around 120,000 currently. 1,000 IT support jobs and 2,400 back office were axed in 2010, while jobs in the bank's investment arm were affected in 2012. Last year there were also 2,000 redundancies, with bank sources telling ComputerworldUK that it was likely IT positions would be affected.

RBS had announced in November that it would be reviewing its operations in order to "improve the bank's performance and effectiveness in serving its customers, shareholders and wider stakeholders", and would seek to "realign the group's cost base". The review will look at IT to help improve customer experience.

The cuts are part of wider changes within the organisation, as RBS sells off parts of its business in a bid to recapitalise. The bank is to invest £300 million in developing separate IT infrastructure as part of the sale of 314 branches to Williams & Glyn's, with IBM and Infosys the frontrunners to win the implementation contract.