TEL AVIV Dec 11 Israeli banking regulator Hedva
Ber said on Sunday she expects the banking system to save at
least 1 billion shekels ($261 million) a year starting in 2020
from mandatory job reductions, branch closures and embracing
Ber, the Supervisor of Banks who a year ago ordered banks to
become more efficient, said about 5,100 jobs will be cut from
Israel's largest banks over the next five years, or a net 10
percent of the total workforce.
At the same time, 200 bank branches -- 20 percent -- will be
closed or merged, she told the Globes business conference.
"Banks in Israel compared to the rest of the world are not
efficient," Ber said, noting that Israeli banks' expenses stand
at 69.4 percent, versus 63.8 percent for the OECD group of
wealthy nations. "Banks need to adapt to a new world."
That, she said, includes a move to digital branches and
services where customers can bank by phone apps and the
internet, which would lower fees and overall costs.
Israelis have long complained about banks charging too many
fees, including for making deposits and withdrawing money from
their own accounts.
To encourage banks to become more efficient and offer early
retirement plans, Ber offered to allow higher dividend payouts,
the spreading of the cost of the streamlining steps and an
ability to implement them without negatively affecting banks'
abilities to meet capital adequacy requirements.
Israel's largest bank, Hapoalim, said in October
that 1,500 workers will take early retirement from 2017-2020 at
a cost of 1.2 billion shekels, in addition to 300 workers
expected to leave the bank voluntarily in 2016.
Leumi, Israel's second-largest bank, plans for
about 700 workers to retire early this year as part of a
multi-year efficiency. Israel Discount Bank, the
country's fourth-largest, expects to reduce its workforce by
($1 = 3.8260 shekels)
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Ros Russell)