Bankers Replaced by Robots Won't Stay Jobless, Swedish FSA Says

Updated on
  • Regulator sees fired bank employees finding jobs elsewhere
  • Changes wrought by technology are ‘painful’ in short term only
Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Sweden’s financial industry is growing at a fast enough pace to ensure that the thousands of bankers being replaced by robots will still be needed, according to the country’s financial regulator.

A digital revolution is seemingly making humans redundant. But Martin Noreus, the deputy director general at the Stockholm-based Financial Supervisory Authority, says most of the bankers affected won’t have a hard time finding new work in the financial industry.

“Unemployment is very low in Sweden, the financial sector is booming, the economy is strong,” Noreus said in an interview in Stockholm. “You have to accept that sometimes firms need to reorganize and restructure, adjust to technological development, and that will lead to change and, of course, you have to be aware that this can be very painful for both firms and for employees. But it is a natural consequence of economic development.”

Nordea Uses Robot to Quadruple Clients Getting Investment Advice

Nordea Bank AB, the Nordic region’s largest lender, said in October it plans to cut as many as 4,000 full-time employees and 2,000 consultants over four years as a billion-dollar-plus investment in technology is rolled out. Swedish financial unions have warned that Nordea’s announcement is just the beginning.

Read more on how Nordea sees digitalization affecting banker pay

But Noreus says that jobs lost in some corners of the financial industry will be replaced by new functions that only humans can perform in others. For example, the market for initial public offerings “is very strong” and there’s “quite a lot of investment coming in from private equity,” he said.

Sweden’s finance industry has grown even as the number of bank branches has declined. Banks, pension and insurance funds, and the companies serving them employed more than 91,000 people last year, up about 2 percent from 2008, according to data from Statistics Sweden.

But the digital transition will still be painful, Noreus said.

“What we see in Nordea and in other banks, it’s just a continuation. If you compared today to the banking sector, the number of employees, in the mid-1990s, it’s very different,” Noreus said. “This is just the latest announcement. It’s natural and it’s something positive.”

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