back to article RBS sharpens axe again: 900 IT jobs to go by 2020

The Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to show 40 per cent of its London-based IT staff the door by 2020, according to Unite the union. The mostly taxpayer-owned bank is also preparing to cut contractor numbers by 65 per cent, the union said. The announcement would mean around 650 permanent staff and 230 contractors could …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    FFS, RBS

    What's this we hear about "Northern Powerhouse" and shit? What's wrong with having the bulk of your IT staff outside of London, eh? Nothing if it's India, it seems, but it's a no go if you want to put them in Sheffield or Scunthorpe or even, here's an idea, SCOTLAND. I hear there's a lovely castle for sale up there for less than the amount you spend on Nespresso pods on a single floor in a year.

    Or is this all down to rubbish digital infrastructure in the UK?

    How's this as an idea... the UK government, so keen to retain banks and finance etc, coughs up some of the dosh for companies like banks to put in some decent heavy-duty backhaul connections to areas of the country where broadband is bad, but where they can give their staff capable of remote working a decent, healthy place to live which isn't going to cost them the earth, and where you get a better standard of living for your wage.

    Why do banks and other big companies keep doing this short-termist cost cutting instead of investing in mid to long-term plans which balance staff welfare against financial rewards?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FFS, RBS

        ...and don't bank with them.

        No change since 2007.

      2. Gordon 10
        Thumb Down

        Re: FFS, RBS

        You've not actually worked in a Bank have you? They ain't that capable of planning or measuring well enough to do that. In fact they probably haven't got a scooby do where the 900 will come from, and will likely be hiring another 900+ somewhere else in the Org simultaneously.

        Never subscribe to greed what can better be explained by incompetence and MBA groupthink.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: You've not actually worked in a Bank have you?

          No, I've never done a bank job.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You've not actually worked in a Bank have you?

            I'm one of the 900 hired to work elsewhere (yes, Scotland) and I have to say, compared with other bankers I've worked for that RBS seem to be a lovely wunch.

            In an overreaction to previous behaviours they've swung completely the opposite way and are trying to be nice to customers and staff. I expect it to last until the government divests 22% and/or Brexit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FFS, RBS

      Northern India ?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FFS, RBS

      I agree with you, but they are bankers. Remember 2007?

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coffee

      No more fancy coffee for rhe floor. It may be reserved for sales management only now. It seems it had gone that way a long time a2.

    6. TheVogon

      Re: FFS, RBS

      I think we know how this goes:








  2. Anonymous Coward

    Presumably this has come about because RBS has, unlike every other big bank I've ever worked in, through a prudent and common sense approach, invested the correct amount on IT, fully realising the importance of a well maintained IT platform to the correct and continued functioning of the bank.

    This clever investment will have allowed them to successfully simplify all internal systems and interfaces, removing duplication brought about by mergers, reorganisations, poor specification and egos, and generally tidy up and prune all the legacy spaghetti that tends to accrete over the years.

    As part of this completely successful remediation process, I would expect that the few remaining systems are fully documented with concise, yet complete runbooks, and because RBS will have had the best people working on these systems - understanding that good development does not come cheap, the reliability of the resulting streamlined IT platform will be second to none.

    That has to be the explanation. Any other reason, say ill-thought out cost cutting, would be fucking stupid, given all the IT-related problems that RBS has suffered from.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well said, sir.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Thank you. I needed a laugh.

    3. James Anderson

      We really need a Prozac ICON.

  3. NoneSuch Silver badge

    I've never dreamed of an IT department that big. Ridiculous that they still have more IT workers left over then are in my current company total.

    They need a leaner and meaner model.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They need a leaner and meaner model.

      Let us know how your company's going if it banks at RBS.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How big is your bank and how many customers does it serve ?

    3. PermissionToSpeakPlease

      Comparing your cornershop with a multinational makes sense how?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I may not be a model

      and I may not be lean but you will not find anyone meaner.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    The discredited, corrosive legacy of Fred 'the shred' lives on.

  5. RareToy

    Reducing IT

    When your low bid outsourced IT department is behind on patches and then you have a network breach, are we going to see the crying CTO saying "We did everything we could. Here is some free monitoring service for a year. Which is also outsourced to the same outfit that couldn't keep up on security patches."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How long before the Royal Bank of India takes over RBS? Banks today are about technology, if they have all the technologists then what do we have apart from the debt?

  7. michael cadoux

    I've seen hollowing out and offshoring. On one system I looked to 3 sysprogs for support, 1 with 20 years' experience, the other 2 about 6; fire the 20-year expensive guy, and surprise! the others then took twice as long to help because no quick guidance for them any more. But managers can't see that. In another shop, all sysprog roles "transferred" (only 2 actually moved) from local to HQ. Rang for some CICS support/tweaks: "I've no idea about any of your systems up there" -and I sympathised, there had been no knowledge transfer to speak of - I told the responsible manager (you can see why I never progressed!) that I had witnessed the final local week with documentation going into black bags and then into the bin to clear the shelves. Boy, was he not interested, but I'm sure "successful transfer" (he'd done zilch) was on his CV.

    1. Velv

      In my experience, even when it does occur, "knowledge transfer" is a waste of time.

      The recipients might get a high level overview, but that's usually something that if you already have a basic understanding of a technology you can pick up the basics of a new implementation very quickly.

      The trick is passing on the site knowledge, the little nuances that make each implementation unique, and that expensive seasoned resource worth their money. Knowing the right place to hit it with a hammer as the urban legend story goes.

  8. Tubz Silver badge

    Looking forward to more IT disasters !

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      They do seem to be doing their best to please you.

  9. Alister

    When will banks realise that they are in fact, primarily an IT company. The majority of financial transactions are accomplished by moving bits and bytes, not physical money.

    IT, for a bank, should not be regarded as a cost centre, but rather as their core business asset.

    Oh well, we can dream...

    1. Richard 26

      'IT, for a bank, should not be regarded as a cost centre, but rather as their core business asset.'

      The thing to do is to not let the beancounters take over in the first place; then you don't have to waste your time arguing you're a special case.

  10. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    See, this is why we need more STEM graduates. With hundreds, we can only make modest savings by firing them. But if we had thousands to fire, we could really make serious inroads into our inefficiencies.

  11. Teiwaz

    And a special good luck goes out to Lloyds

    A ten year deal with IBM - yup, seen that before - within a year, the staff that actually understood their IT system will be long gone leaving sod all documentation and half trained staff. When the whole kit and kaboodle is handed back to some newly created IT service group after ten years of failing services they'll find documentation not updated since the initial handover and nobody has an idea what goes on where, for how long or why.

    And with the promise of off-shoring after a couple of years, I would fullly expect the docs that are handed over to be as gone as the great library of Alexandria.

  12. FozzyBear

    Yep the beancounters are at it again. They whine that profits aren't big enough so IT is cut. "cause they are the easy targets, and of course "IT"? whats so hard about that.

    The IT staff go and then they whine that they can't log in, they whine their excel wont load, the Network is slow. I forgot my password they whine . Then they whine they they don't get the same hand holding, snot nose wiping level of care as they did when IT was In house. It Come back in house, Then they whine again. Rinse and repeat over the decades

    Beancounters whine, the world turns. The real news would be if a beancounter was able to look past fiddling spreadsheets and saw the big picture.

  13. mrjohn

    You can't cut your way to growth.

    1. JimC

      > You can't cut your way to growth.

      But you can, as has been well pointed out above, cut your way to executive bonuses.

      We seem to be in a sort of post capitalist era where the power is not with those who have the capital, but with the executives who administer it Does not look good for long term business health, but looks very good for letting the executives get very very rich at the expense of everyone else. Company growing - have a bonus. Company contracting under cost cutting - have a bonus. Company "dealng well with difficult trade conditions" - have a bonus.

      Capitalism had the crude balance that if the company went under so did your capital. Executivism appears at the moment to have no checks or balances at all.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does

    So, yes, they are going to lose a bunch of jobs in London: there are a couple of interesting things about that which, conveniently, have been downplayed or omitted by the source of this information.

    London is a pretty expensive place to do business: might it not be a good idea for a company which is trying to save costs to, you know, move to cheaper places in the UK? Places where people find it hard to get jobs? Is that a bad thing now?

    What part of RBS runs out of London? Could it be investment banking? Why yes, it could. And isn't there some kind of big ongoing saga that affects investment banking? Some kind of political thing? Something that might cause banks to need to move a bunch of their operations to cities outwith the UK? Like, I don't know, Amsterdam, where they have a banking licence already. So, I don't know, you might expect banks to be reducing headcount in London, don't you think? Or should they stick their heads up their arses and pretend none of it is happening like our glorious leaders, until in a couple of years someone hacksaws through their necks and leaves them stuck there.

    Where does the IT part of RBS's retail banking run from? Is it London or some other capital city a bit north of there? Gosh, yes it is that other city, isn't it. And how many staff are they planning to lose in this other city? Or are they actually hiring people up there?

    And finally: I don't work for RBS, but I do own a stake in them because I pay taxes in the UK. I'd kind of like them to make a profit sometime so I can actually get the great chunk of my money that the government threw at them in 2008 back. If that means making their IT operations a little less bloated and inefficient, then I'm actually fine with that. Even if involves making it harder for me to find my next contract.

    Diclaimer: I don't work for RBS. I don't even know if what they are planning is right. I do know that the source behind this article is seriously one-sided.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does

      Without wanting to defend RBS, I think you're possibly much closer to correct. Reputedly, the IT teams in London are almost two thirds contractors - how does that give either value for money or retained knowledge?

      Anon because RBS (sometimes) provide my income.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does

      Yes, the article has come via Unite, and is not a reflection of the road map laid out to staff.

      40% reduction in permanent roles in London by 2020

      65% reduction in contract roles in London by 2020

      Overall UK reduction of 5% of permanent roles by 2020

      Overall UK reduction of 40% of contract roles by 2020

      25% increase in permanent roles in India by 2020

      Remember, irrespective of permanent or contractor filled, these are job roles being removed. With a current Permanent:Contractor ration of 55:45 the overall UK loss is over 40% of current jobs.

  15. Velv

    Accountancy is just like technology. Some basic rules to follow and any trained person in the world can write that spreadsheet and crunch those numbers.

    Funny however that we don't see masses of bean counter jobs being "right shored" to cheaper operating places.

    When they came for the technologists I didn't speak out as I'm not a technologist...

    1. DuchessofDukeStreet

      Bean Counters

      They are .... you just don't see/hear about them because the finance industry doesn't have an equivalent of the Register.

      HR jobs however....

  16. Bigbubbleone

    Sadly this is just the beginning of the next global cull of people.

    Artificial Intelligence is developing rapidly and so many humans will no longer have a work place function over the next 10 years.

    The distibrution of wealth is already totally unbalanced with a top 1% owning so much.

    We are already seeing the first signs of civil unrest and movement back to far right across Europe, Germany and Austria being the latest examples.

    I do not see governments will have the power to intervene in the Hi Tech companies e.g Apple , Google who are already signing contracts with governments that the public are not even aware.

    Data is is the new gold.

    The biggest threat is lack of water causeing increases in lack of food.

    As Einstein quoted “ I do not no what weapons will be used to fight the the 3rd world war but the 4th world war will be fought with sticks and stones”

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