Hanging on the telephone

Hal Austin

Recent developments in retail finance, in particular the retail development review, have put on the backburner the ticking time of outsourcing vital functions by banks and insurance companies.

Apart from the issue of data protection that it raises – passing confidential information about account holders and customers to security call centre employees in India, Surinam and other low-cost domains – the continuing practice raises serious questions about risk.

Any bank account holder who passes personal information to some call centre worker in Mumbai or Paramaribo should not be surprised if minutes later there is a deep haemorrhage of funds from their accounts.

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The time has certainly come to move all these jobs back onshore, providing jobs and career opportunities for hard-pressed young men and women all over the country.

The original justification, that offshoring would save on costs and also attract bright people with technological skills, no longer holds.

Instead, the only real damaging outcome, data protection aside, is that while young Britons are drifting further away from acquiring the necessary technological skills, people in these distant countries will be outpacing us by leaps and bounds.

Stakeholders must start pressuring their providers who have offshore call centres to move jobs back onshore or face the consequences.