Barclays is hiring more staff to advise small businesses and exporters, in a change to its plan to automate every service possible, City A.M. has learned.
Chief executive Antony Jenkins is pushing to use cutting-edge technology wherever possible to automate processes and cut down on the need to retain an enormous workforce. But the bank has discovered some limits to this plan, and is hiring more well-trained workers to offer advice in its small business arm.
"We have over-embraced the digital piece and forgotten this is still a people-to-people business," Barclays' head of international business Steve Childs told City A.M.
“From an international perspective, if you are new to that journey you need to sit down and talk to somebody."
He now has more than 100 staff trained by the Institute of Export and wants to hire more.
The arrangement runs counter to the strategy followed by other parts of Barclays and by other banks which aim to strip out staff to cut costs.
Childs hopes that the loss-making advice service will encourage firms to stick with Barclays when they need to pay for services such as international payments later on.