Hiring data indicates that Bank of America is replacing branch staff with artificial intelligence
Bank of America ($NYSE:BAC) is currently riding its all-time high of job openings, as the company is looking for over 12,000 positions to be filled around the world.
While branch jobs are still the most common positions at the multinational bank, job title trends reveal that the company is facing a steady decline in client-facing openings and shifting towards jobs that involve financial technology. This stokes the flames of concerns by many investors, activists, and politicians, such as Democratic Party Presidential nominee Andrew Yang, who believe that teller jobs and the like will be automated in the future and cause a severe loss in human capital.
The company is looking for less than half as many people to fill its 4,600 retail banking outlets. Meanwhile, the number of job openings that contain recent developments in fintech — automation, AI, machine learning, and natural language processing — doubled since the new year.
Above is the job opening picture for the following job openings: Client Service Representatives, Client Associates, and Registered Client Associates. These three positions — whether they are full-time, part-time, or per diem — are the lifeblood of a typical branch, as these are the fancier names for tellers and walk-in advisors that an account holder would see when entering a branch.
Since the beginning of 2019, Bank of America listed 56.76% less job openings in these branch-related jobs. In other words, the company is looking for less than half as many people to fill its 4,600 retail banking outlets.
Meanwhile, the number of job openings that contain recent developments in fintech — automation, AI, machine learning, and natural language processing — doubled since the new year.
While these positions are for a variety of teams with Bank of America, it would be remiss of anyone to brush off any notion that Bank of America is looking to automate banking at multiple levels. The company started testing automated branches in 2017, and has shrunk its physical retail presence by a full third since June 2008.
Consumers are also increasingly doing their banking business online or, if they need cash, at ATMs. The company has 27.1 million active mobile banking users, as of the last fiscal quarter. During that quarter, customers made 523,000 digital appointments and made 39 million interactions with Erica, Bank of America's digital AI assistant.
This all brings us back to a major talking point in finance and in politics: the rise of robots in the workforce. According to a Brookings report, 25% of jobs in the United States will be affected by automation, and, according to its job opening trends, that appears to already be happening at Bank of America.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.