A job in an Indian public-sector bank is a slow and steady affair. Those who want a stable career opt for a job in public-sector bank where one sees none of the challenges, insecurities and big jumps of the private sector. But that is soon going to change. Public-sector bank jobs might become as hectic, performance-linked and even scarce.
The banking industry, which was among the big job creators along with the information technology industry in the past two decades, is at an inflection point where technology is enhancing efficiency by doing more and at a faster pace than what humans could do.
Technology will not only transform staid job atmosphere but also make a lot of jobs vanish.
Traditional jobs like passbook updating, cash deposit, verification of know-your-customer details, salary uploads are going digital increasing job redundancies. After the private-sector banks, even those in the public sector are trying robotics to centralise operations and hasten turnarounds which reduces the need for manual workers.
Soon after, HDFC Bank launched an electronic virtual assistant (EVA) a few months ago, State Bank of India (SBI), India’s biggest public sector bank, too is testing a chatbot to handle customer queries and explain to them retail products and services. SBI Intelligent Assistant, SIA, might also be a modest beginning that can emerge as a wide phenomenon a few years later.
In future, SIA might handle real banking transactions as well.
The Indian banking industry has been witnessing a slow transition from people-driven to machine-controlled in the past few years. The technological development, which has made banking easier, has also led to a slowdown in hiring. Indian banks employed nearly 13 lakh people at the end of March 2015, out of which state-run banks alone employ nearly 8.6 lakh people, while private sector banks employed 3.2 lakh people, a paltry growth of 3 per cent over March 2014, data from RBI shows. While low-skilled jobs are vanishing, the nature of skill sets required is changing with a lot more focus on the front end talent.
Another challenge public sector bankers stare at is transformation in salaries. Already, there are voices in favour of performance-linked salaries. After the state-run UCO Bank, Syndicate Bank has threatened irregular or laggardly employees with holding back paychecks. Under severe asset quality stress and losing business to their rivals in the private sector, public sector banks are piling the pressure on employees in a bid to remain competitive.
Employees may soon also lose the privilege of having trade unions ram through pay hikes. Several public-sector banks are considering variable pay structures based on performance. With such measures, a banker’s salary will also lose predictability and the assurance that comes with it.
Reeling under the burden of non-performing assets worth Rs 6 lakh crore, public-sector banks will have to resort to innovative ways to remain healthy. The government has launched a big merger exercise which would reduce the number of public sector banks to nearly six from 27. The mergers will not only reduce jobs but also disrupt unique work cultures in which employees have settled comfortably for long.
Due to these disruptions and challenges the public-sectors banks face, a banker’s job might not be slow, steady or stable within the next 10 years.
Source: The Economic Times