Royal Bank of Scotland is to cut 550 jobs as it scales back on in-person advice to customers with less than £250,000 to invest.
The news was leaked to the FT over the weekend in a classic PR campaign to soften the market and test the waters ahead of a formal statement on the plans.
The move will hit 220 financial advisory roles and 200 further staff who provide insurance protection advice.
The bank, which previously provided in-person advisory services to clients with more than £100,000 to invest says the shift reflects a reduction in demand for personal services following the introduction of new rules under the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).
RBS is instead planning to roll out an automated advisory platform that will be made available to all customers with more than £500 in liquid assets.
“Our customers increasingly want to bank with us using digital technology,” the bank said in a statement. “As a result, we are scaling back our face-to-face advisers and significantly investing in an online investing platform that enables us to help a new group of customers with as little as 500 pounds to invest.”
Customers seeking insurance protection plans will instead be directed to a telephone-based service, the bank added.
The news comes as the Financial Conduct Authority takes the wraps off an update to RDR conducted under the guise of the Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR) which highlights the increasing role that technology can play in creating a more engaging, cost-effective advice market. It recommends that the FCA extend the work of Project Innovate and establish a unit to help firms develop their automated advice models.