Following widepread reports of dramatic downsizing of both its workforce and branch system, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has released an official response deeming the reports “misleading” and “unnecessarily alarming.”
The statement confirmed that, as indicated by the bank’s half year results, there is a “need to manage costs” in order to be able to “invest in things that will make a measurable and long-term difference” for its customers, but also expressed disappointment “that speculation may be repeated as fact.”
CBA singled out one rumour in particular, saying: “The suggestion that ‘300 of the bank’s network of branches is under consideration’ is incorrect and misleading.”
It has been suggested that the 300 figure may instead refer to a reduction in CBA’s ATM system, which is the largest in the country. ATMs require constant servicing, stocking, and upgrading, so scaling back would eliminate a number of costs.
Additionally, attention was drawn to the natural turnover that takes place in large companies through people retiring, leaving for other jobs, and – perhaps most significantly – through businesses being sold.
CBA is currently in the process of selling a number of its businesses. Colonial First State Global Asset Management (CFSGAM) has been sold and the deal is due to be complete by the end of this financial year. The sale of CBA’s Australian and New Zealand life insurance business, announced September 2017, is slated to be finalized by the end of June as well.
The suspended demerger of CBA’s wealth management and mortgage broking businesses could be implemented some time in the next 18 months to two years.
Each of these deals would see hundreds or even thousands of employees leaving CBA.
With a company attempting to cut costs and not looking to replace the natural attrition of its workforce, it’s not unreasonable to expect a significant reduction in the number of employees at Commonwealth Bank in the near future.
CBA’s statement concluded with the bank’s assurance that it “will be open and transparent as soon as any decisions have been made.”