Bidvest staff cuts stress changes in banking

In yet another indication of the way that SA’s traditional banks will need to continue evolving towards leaner and meaner digitally focuses business models, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, Bidvest Bank announced in the past week that it intends retrenching around 400 employees.

While this number may seem small in the context of the big banks, this is a significant 38% of Bidvest Bank’s total staff complement of 1 037.

Of this figure, 651 employees work in the divisions that are expected to be affected by the retrenchments – personal banking, business banking and support services.

“The negative impact in relation to travel, tourism, leisure and hospitality industries arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and general economic factors appear to still be ongoing and, currently, prospects of these industries showing any improvement in the short term remain remote, which in turn impacts extensively on our business due to our focus on forex and related products,” management said in a letter to staff.

“As a direct result of the pandemic the Bidvest Group, like most companies, is reviewing its operations across the group to ensure not just our short-term survival but long-term sustainability,” SABC News quotes the Chairman of the Bidvest Group, Boneng Mohale, as saying.

“Our first thought is always with the employees during this difficult time. This is but one part of the downsizing of our entire business. The bank has been repositioned to virtual banking and this has been approved by both the Bidvest Group Excco and Bank board of directors.”

Acting MD Thinus Liebenberg said the pandemic has accelerated the demand for digital access to financial services and decreased the need for traditional ways of interacting with banks and other service providers.

“Bidvest Bank has also experienced a significant impact on its financial results and revenues over the last few months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, further compounded by general economic environment,” said Liebenberg.

A number of dedicated digital banks have begun competing in the SA banking space, with TymeBank, in particular, making inroads. -SouthAfrican