Top bank executives say some workers in the sector face the imminent danger of losing their jobs following the COVID-19 induced digital transformation of banking, PwC Ghana’s 2020 Banking Survey has revealed.
When asked by the audit firm about how the pandemic’s outbreak had transformed their operations, the bank chiefs responded that the immediate response was to enforce remote working while realigning workers’ roles.
While the majority, 69 percent, of respondents, indicated that remote working will become a permanent option going forward, there was general consensus that the new norm will ultimately lead to the shedding of workers whose jobs have become automated.
“Most banks intend to permanently incorporate remote working as an option available to staff based on their roles. 12.5% of banks confirmed that they have already begun and will continue to realign the job roles and work team structures to the new way of working in order to maximise efficiencies of digital banking, and ensure less-paper operations and requirements for social distancing. In the long run, these measure may result in possible layoffs for some whose jobs become automated,” the report said.
“Bank executives do not anticipate that travel policies and recruitment policies will be significantly different from what currently exists. For now, bank executives expect a reduction in staff numbers while they realign staff skills by developing their digital competences to cope with the new way of working,” it added.
Commenting on the findings of the survey, which was on the theme “The new normal: banks’ response to COVID-19”, PwC’s Country Senior Partner, Vish Ashiagbor, cautioned that for workers that survive the digital progression, they have to upgrade their skills to remain relevant.
“Employees that remain are expected to acquire new skills that make them aware of and therefore able to reduce exposure to the increased cybersecurity risks that remote working and digital service delivery present banks with,” he noted.
Despite the widely envisaged digital disruption, Mr. Ashiagbor stated that the feedback PwC got from the respondents is not suggestive of a total transformation of Ghana’s banking sector.
“For instance, it is not likely that observers would see a bank in the immediate years that follow recovery from the pandemic and wonder, ‘is that really a bank?’ Still, from the responses given by bank executives, there are indications of remarkable progress along the digital journey.
For now, it seems that focus is on service delivery channels and back office systems with an emphasis on creating – especially for the latter – an environment that supports remote working by staff. We expect that details of how this progress is achieved will evolve with time, as different banks select different tracks in their pursuit to become ‘a digital bank’,” he added.
The Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Association of Bankers, John Awuah, in remarks captured in the report, commended banks for leveraging technology to meet the diverse needs of customers during the peak of the pandemic.
“The initial investments made by banks in technology have enabled the industry to support customers during these uncertain times. The benefits of the ‘new normal’ will surely continue to change the way banking business is done going forward,” he added.