Citibank offshores to Manila

Right on cue Citibank Australia is the first of the big financial services firms to relocate its call centre operations to Manila in the Philippines.

Citibank's current Brisbane-based call centre, established in 1999, employs 120 staff and will be relocated to Manila over the next five months.

The bank said the transfer followed a "rigorous review" of the most efficient and effective way of providing services to customers in what it said was the increasingly competitive Australian financial services market place.

Citibank said it would provide Brisbane-based call centre employees with career management workshops as well as investigate redeployment opportunities in other areas of the bank, both locally and overseas, and work with other companies' Brisbane-based call centres to ascertain recruitment opportunities.

"All Citibank employees have been fully informed of these plans and those whose jobs are impacted will be offered assistance over the next five months so they can confidently look to sure new internal or external positions," Citibank Australia managing director Les Matheson said in a statement.

He said the bank was committed to long-term expansion in Australia through strategic acquisition and growth of products and services.

"Our expansion is also based on achieving operating efficiencies so as to remain competitive against local banks that have the economic advantage of large customer bases," Matheson said.

"As part of a global organization with a presence in most countries around the world, we are in a unique position to be able to utilise regional Citibank centres to achieve those efficiencies."

Citibank and the broader organization Citigroup have several regional processing centres throughout Asia Pacific including Australia, Malaysia, India, China and the Philippines.

The bank said for Citibank's customers the relocation of its call centre offshore would be seamless, with telephone numbers and charges remaining unchanged.

All of Australia's largest banks are reviewing their call centre operations embracing a trend identified by Gartner that most financial organizations will have both an onshore and offshore mix to compete effectively.

Other banks are expected to follow in coming months as wages for an agent in Australia costs $3000 per month compared to $3000 a year in India, according to Genesys VP Asia and India, James Brooks.

He said it is pressure from the board level that is forcing banks to take this step although some financial organizations have already rejected the shift including Suncorp and the ANZ Bank.

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