India’s biggest private sector lender, ICICI Bank, reduced its employee base by 1,082 people in the three months period from July to September this year.
As per the latest numbers, the bank had 83,058 employees as of September 30. This number as on June 2017 stood at 84,140 employees.
The bank’s employee costs during the quarter remained flat at Rs 1,514 crore from the previous quarter.
At a time when India’s banking sector is one of the few recruiting industries, robots, chatbots, artificial intelligence and other technologies are threatening jobs in the sector. This, along with the stress on the balance sheets of banks due to deteriorating loan quality and more capital provision requirement, has been directly impacting costs of the banks.
On the other hand, its peer HDFC Bank, which follows ICICI Bank as country's second largest private bank, added 2,700 employees and Axis Bank, third largest private bank, added 2,270 in the three month period from July to September period on higher business growth.
Nevertheless, HDFC Bank had also rationalised its staff count in the previous year by reducing its total employee base to a low of 83,750 as on June 2017, as against a peak of 95,002 as on September end last year.
In two quarters from April to September, ICICI Bank added 1,300 employees during the first quarter. The headcount as of June 30, 2017 stood at 84,140 employees. While the second quarter saw a reduction.
In comparison, a year ago, the bank had added 6,379 employees in H1 of 2016-17 (from April to September 2016) with a staff of 80,475 people as of September 30, 2016.
Source: ICICI Bank
Showing a comparison from a year ago, an ICICI Bank spokesperson said, “The number of employees working with ICICI Bank has increased from 80,475 in September 2016 to 83,058 in September 2017. The Bank has no plans to reduce manpower in the immediate short-term.”
In total, in FY16-17, the private bank had added 8,745 people to a total of 82,841 employees as of March 31, 2017, as compared to 6,239 added in FY15-16. The bank had slowed its staff addition in the October-December period in 2017 by adding just 424 people.
Grappling with large costs of non-performing loans and weak profitability, NS Kannan, Executive Director of the bank had said in July that they “continue to focus on productivity and cost efficiency, and would target further moderation in cost growth during the year”.
In its latest financial results in the second quarter of FY17-18 ending September 2017, ICICI Bank’s net profit dropped by 34 percent to Rs 2,058 crore from last year’s quarter. Its gross non-performing assets (NPAs) spiked from the year-ago period but improved from the previous quarter. Its net NPAs were the lowest in the last eight quarters at Rs 24,130 crore.
Also read: Worried about a bank job? Upgrade your skills
In March this year, Kannan had told analysts, in a post results conference call, that the Bank would also look at implementing additional cost optimisation measures during the year, while growing its retail franchise.
“With significant investments in human resources and distribution in recent years. Going forward, the bank would focus on fully leveraging existing resources and infrastructure. Further, the Bank would also look at implementing additional cost optimization measures during the year, while growing its retail franchise. Accordingly, the bank would target to contain the growth in operating expenses to a significantly lower level than the 16% growth we had in FY17,” Kannan added.