More than 100 jobs on the line as BNZ restructures its branch network, First Union says. Bank says 'change proposals' are being discussed

First Union, the bank workers' union, says more than 100 jobs are on the line at BNZ as the bank restructures its branch network.

First Union spokesperson Tali Williams says it's "appalling" that a "wildly profitable" bank like BNZ is looking to layoff so many staff through an "unnecessary" restructure.

"BNZ is proposing job and hours reductions for tellers in over 30 stores [branches] nationwide and everyday this number is growing. Changes have already occurred in some stores while other stores are still at the consultation stage," says Williams.

“BNZ’s restructure impacts frontline tellers, the first people to help us when we walk into a branch. This isn’t just devastating for those staff who may lose their jobs but it’ll impact customers as well. When jobs go customer service suffers," Williams adds.

According to Williams, BNZ maintains the introduction of Smart ATMs is making people obsolete.

"Sure, Smart ATM’s can assist if you want to make a deposit, but what about all the other reasons people visit a bank? Smart ATMs cannot approve loans, give financial advice, or help sort out a problem in someone’s accounts. Many customers still want face-to-face service. You only need to go into any branch to see there are lines out the door so there’s still a customer need," Williams says.

Meanwhile, a BNZ spokeswoman says the bank's management has spoken about the need to get the balance right as customers become increasingly independent in terms of their day-to-day banking.

"Most are comfortable using things like online banking and our app, and smart ATMs which can process more transactions and queries," the BNZ spokeswoman says.

"In some of our branches, this means we are looking at the mix of staff and skills they have. For some this means there are change proposals that are being discussed. We can’t go into detail on what that might be, as we need to let the proper consultation process take place with our people in the first instance," says the BNZ spokeswoman.

According to this year's KPMG Financial Institutions Performance Survey, BNZ has 5,019 staff, an increase of 178 year-on-year. The KPMG survey put BNZ's branch numbers at 171, down two year-on-year.

New Zealand's big four banks, including BNZ, rank near the top of the pack across a range of profitability measures when compared to their counterparts from both advanced economies and major emerging economies.

Also see; Bank branches and 20th century thinking.

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11 Comments

i went into a BNZ to deposit a AU cheque, one teller, line out the door and a lady going along to see who she could redirect to the smart ATM, only found one old couple, the rest of us needed something it could not do
sounds like a bean counter idea on saving money without finding out what the tellers are doing

Maybe it's because they call their branches 'stores'? If you see a line out the door on a store, you think it must be great :)

The weak point in the "AI and tech" is going to replace all the jobs is this . ever weaker consumer DEMAND. And remember demand is what no central bank can currently stimulate ...

To quote Gail Tsverberg

"If we would substitute technology for cheap energy, we would be in great shape. We cannot. Technology leads to greater wage disparity, as some become the owners and operators of the technology, and others are left without jobs."

It's not only banks. I went to Air NZ counter at the airport to sort our a minor issue ( forgot to book-a-bag on the next flight I'd booked on-line, and wanted to pre-buy the bag). "Sorry. We don't do that here, you'll have to go on-line, because you booked on-line"

That's a customer experience fail, definitely.

Yes I do a vast amount of my stuff on internet banking - and it's quite a lot. That means on the rare occasions I do go to the bank premises it's for something complicated. Trouble is that is the same complication that everybody in the long queue in front of me is there for as well. Each interaction takes a while and the queue don't move.
The banks are not making these worker redundant because they are not needed or everybody is doing internet. One look at the length of the queues shows clearly those staff are needed, in fact we need more.
The banks are just out to save money. It's a feature of the modern corporates that they want to extract payment but not provide the service. Tried phoning a phone company recently ?

Maybe you have the wrong bank, or at the wrong time? In the extremely rare occasion I need to go to one of the branches of my bank, there's never really a wait.

Just like motorways can't be built for peak traffic, neither can staffing.

Which Bank do you work for BNZ

As a Gen Y, I just don't see the fuss about Branches. It'll go the way of cheques eventually.

You forget perhaps that a significant majority of loans (home loans included) are now applied for "on-line"....most bank customer's also now use their online banking access to submit enquiries etc. So other than to pick up an EFTPOS card and deposit cash, branches are becoming a less and less usual means of dealing with your bank. Certainly not the banks of old anymore.....