HSBC to double offshore staff

HSBC to double offshore staff

UK banking group HSBC plans to almost double the number of staff employed at its offshore back office centres in Asia over the next three years and cut more jobs at its operations in Europe and the US.

HSBC chief operating officer Alan Jebson told reporters that, although he doesn't have a precise target, he expects the bank to have more than 15 offshore centres employing more than 25,000 staff in three years time.

The bank currently has around 13,000 staff across 10 back-office centres in Asia, providing mainly telephone support and clerical services.

Jebson was speaking on a visit to Malaysia, where HSBC has its biggest offshore centre employing around 2000 staff. He told reporters that the backlash against outsourcing in Western countries was confined mainly to the media and some politicians and he did not expect HSBC's offshoring plans to face political hurdles.

HSBC has four service centres in India, three in China and one each in Malaysia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The bank will open a fifth Indian centre in Calcutta in November. Jebson says HSBC is also considering opening a new offshore unit in Vietnam which has low costs and populations of English and French speakers.

The expansion of HSBC's offshore operations is part of a four year $1bn cost cutting programme implemented at the bank in 2003. Jebson says the bank saves about $20,000 for every job it moves offshore.

Last year HSBC agreed to work with UK labour union Unifi to minimise job losses after it said it was transferring 4000 positions to offshore centres in Malaysia, China and India. But the union later criticised claims by HSBC that the bank's overseas centres were more efficient at processing transactions than those in the UK.

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