Dutch bank ING plans to axe 1,700 staff, plus another 1,000 contractors, over the next three years as it embarks on a new digital strategy, its CEO has announced.
The bank will take a 320 euros (£266 million) pre-tax charge in the current fourth quarter to help finance the staff job cuts. The bank says it will dedicate itself to an omnichannel business strategy to "create consistent customer service", and will also invest 200 million euros to "further simplify and automate IT systems and processes" to help the transformation.
The bank reckons it will achieve annual gross savings of around 270 million euros as a result of the changes "from 2018 onwards".
In order to "improve the customer experience and enhance operational excellence", ING says it will take measures to further expand digital banking, strengthen local advisory capabilities in the branch network, and make additional IT investments in its Dutch retail banking unit.
There were previous major reorganisations at the bank in 2011 and 2012, which also resulted in major job losses.
Ralph Hamers, CEO of ING Group, said: "In today's digital world change is a constant factor. Customers are using a range of channels for their banking needs. They expect to do their banking the way they want, when they want and in a consistent, reliable, clear and easy way."
He said: "In this environment we need to continuously improve our service. We are creating a consistent customer experience by integrating our service channels in the Netherlands and by making a substantial investment to simplify and upgrade our IT systems. Unfortunately, the more efficient way of working will impact many of our employees."
Currently, ING uses different IT systems for mobile apps, websites, call centres and branches. As a consequence, ING said, not all customer information is readily available in each channel. By moving to an omnichannel approach, customers will be able to do all their banking digitally, and the information will be available across all channels to provide a "better, more seamless service", the bank said.
The 1,700 jobs to go will be in the Netherlands, mostly at the headquarters of ING Retail Banking and in the back offices, call centres and IT departments of the business. In addition, ING says it will reduce the number of positions employed by its external suppliers by 1,075 - some of these may well be in other countries.
Earlier this year, ING said it was considering a new cloud infrastructure service offered by existing provider Hitachi Data Systems.
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