The UK's Nationwide Building Society has slammed proposals by HSBC to double the number of staff employed at cheap offshore centres in Asia and axe jobs in Western countries, claiming that customers are against the move.
HSBC chief operating officer Alan Jebson told reporters earlier this week that the banking group intends to have more than 15 offshore centres employing more than 25,000 staff in three years time.
HSBC currently has around 13,000 staff across 10 centres in Asia, providing mainly telephone support and back office services. The expansion of its 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.
But in a statement, Philip Williamson, chief executive at Nationwide criticised the move: "We are surprised that HSBC has seen fit to export so many jobs overseas, when research suggests that customers are overwhelmingly against such a move. A suspicion must remain that this is not a decision made to benefit customers, but to boost the profits of a bank that made over £9 billion in profit in 2004."
The building society said last year it was making substantial investment in its UK customer contact centre operations, in direct contradiction of industry trends for shifting jobs offshore. Nationwide employs almost 900 people at its call centres in Swindon, Northampton, Swansea and newly opened facility in Sheffield. Together the centres handle 21,000 customer contacts a day.
Nationwide says around 20% of all sales are generated through its customer contact centres.