• `We are scaling back our face-to-face advisers' for investors
  • Protection unit is reacting to `gradual decline' in clients

Royal Bank of Scotland Plc plans to cut about 550 jobs as it scales back in-person advice to certain customers seeking investments and insurance, according to a person briefed on the moves.

Some clients will be directed to a new online investing platform to keep their business with the bank commercially viable, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing the thinking behind the push. The shift affects people with less than 250,000 pounds ($360,000) to invest and will eliminate about 220 workers who helped provide such advice, the Financial Times wrote on Sunday, without saying where it got the information.

“Our customers increasingly want to bank with us using digital technology,” Edinburgh-based RBS said in a statement. “As a result, we are scaling back our face-to-face advisers and significantly investing in an online investing platform that enables us to help a new group of customers with as little as 500 pounds to invest.”

Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan has been eliminating thousands of jobs as he cuts expenses and focuses on consumer lending in the U.K. and Ireland to improve earnings after eight straight annual losses. The bank is scaling back its in-person advice as many younger, cost-sensitive investors already are flocking to automated services, such as so-called robo-advisers that use algorithms to make recommendations.

The firm also is overhauling how it advises customers on critical-illness and life insurance. That push will cost about 200 jobs, according to the FT.

“Due to the gradual decline in the number of customers in our protection business, this service will now be available over the telephone,” RBS said. The bank “will proactively contact all customers to ensure a smooth transition.”

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