StanChart seeks to relocate back office work to India as COVID rages
HONG KONG – Standard Chartered, one of the largest international banks operating in India, is considering a temporary transfer of some back office work to its other centers in Asia and Europe as the country of more than 1.3 billion people are struggling with one of the worst coronavirus crises.
The bank, which has support centers in the southern Indian cities of Chennai and Bangalore, plans to shift this work to centers in Kuala Lumpur, Tianjin and Warsaw in China to “rebalance” the workload. CEO Bill Winters said on a call to investors.
India has become a new epicenter for the pandemic, with a total death toll exceeding 200,000 and new cases hitting a record high every day. With more than 3 million active cases, the country’s healthcare system is at a breaking point and staff shortages plague businesses, including global banks, who depend on back offices for everything from trade settlement to health care. response to customer inquiries.
India is considered the global back office, and global banks including UBS Group, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Nomura each employ tens of thousands of employees in service centers across the country.
While Standard Chartered’s back office employees work from home, the bank’s branches across the country have remained open. The bank, which has maintained a presence in India for over 160 years, has more than 20,000 employees and 100 branches in 43 cities, providing banking and wealth management services.
“We have large case counts among our population, both at our service center and at the bank,” Winters said. “We kept most of our branches open. So we had a disproportionate share of branch staff cases, very unfortunately.”
Last year, as the pandemic spread and India imposed a nationwide lockdown, companies struggled to keep their service centers operating to ensure that work was not interrupted. They have bought hundreds of thousands of computers to deal with the rise of remote working.
While all of those efforts have helped, this time around more employees are testing positive, leading to a staff shortage. The daily infection rate in Bangalore, the country’s technology hub, is five times higher than the first wave last year.
India’s $ 191 billion outsourcing industry employs 4.4 million people directly in back offices and call centers, according to the trade body National Association of Software and Services Companies. These young English-speaking graduates are paid a fraction of their peers in developed countries.
Previously, Standard Chartered reported an 18% increase in underlying profit before tax in the first quarter after falling bad debt provisions.