ANZ's plan to move more Aussie jobs overseas is reigniting the debate about off-shoring at a time when financial sector employment is already under severe strain.
While domestic banks have been shifting jobs to countries like India for several years, the current financial crisis is greatly increasing pressures to cut headcount costs.
And if current trends continue, future off-shoring could be on a larger scale than pre-credit crunch and could affect more highly-skilled positions.
The recently revealed numbers at ANZ are already huge. The firm is moving about 500 IT and administrative positions from Melbourne to Bangalore, following another 500 jobs which were relocated to the Indian IT hub last year. The firm is also shifting 100 Melbourne call centre positions to Wellington.
But it's not just the size of off-shoring that matters. Caitlin Heming, senior consultant, Bradman Recruitment Group, says there is also some evidence that off-shoring is shifting up the corporate ladder, with client service, account management and even analyst roles already lost from Australia.
Rod Mason, national policy director, Finance Sector Union, adds: "While the Indian banking industry's plans have clearly started with processing and back-office roles, their aim is to attract the higher skilled, higher paid jobs."
He also warns that off-shoring should not go unchallenged because banks' Australian operations could eventually be reduced to deposit-taking retail outlets. "The deep concern is that we could lose the great part of the skill, innovation and the ability to develop financial services."
However, Mason tells us that he hasn't heard directly of front-office jobs being lost overseas yet.
Jon Coles, CEO of Executive Group International, agrees that the front office is still safe. "People need to meet regularly. If teleconferencing was geared up another level, it could be possible. But this is unlikely to happen in the near future."
He adds: "We have some of the best analysts in the world and they are being taken offshore by Fidelity and some of the other big financial services institutions and brokers, who may try and beam their research back into Australia. But I don't think it will be successful."
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