One of the world’s biggest banks, Deutsche Bank, has announced that it will be replacing a significant portion of its workforce with robots. The financial institution, which is based in Frankfurt, Germany, employs more than 100,000 people. It is not known exactly how many people will be laid off or when, but CEO John Cryan said that the layoffs would involve a “big number” of people.
Cryan won’t be winning any favor with those who will lose their jobs, and those that are keeping their jobs will probably look at him a little differently, too, after some of his comments seemed to indicate a blasé attitude toward so many people losing their livelihoods. In addition to boasting that the move toward automation was part of the firm’s “revolutionary spirit,” he also said that accountants there “spend a lot of the time basically being an abacus.”
“In our banks, we have people behaving like robots doing mechanical things. Tomorrow we’re going to have robots behaving like people,” said Cryan, who became the company’s CEO in June 2015. He is in the midst of carrying out a five-year restructuring plan that has been impacting workers’ structures and bonuses.
In some cases, however, robots will be given tasks that can easily be automated and the human workers will be given more interesting work, such as analyzing numbers rather than merely producing them. Cryan gave the example of an accountant spending three to four weeks producing a single account before moving onto the next one. He suggested that using machines to produce these numbers in just a few hours would free up accountants to form opinions about what the numbers mean and take on more complex and stimulating tasks. Of course, this won’t apply to all or even most positions because he clearly stated his intent to give a “big number” of workers their walking papers.