UK - Accenture has singled out stakeholder pensions as one reason why call centre jobs in the UK could "quickly disappear in the same way as jobs in heavy industry", an event which would have a dramatic impact upon the employment landscape.
Steve Lathrope, insurance partner at Accenture, claims that call centre work will increasingly be transferred to overseas centres such as India due to costs in the UK. According to Accenture’s research, up to 20% of the insurance industry’s jobs will be transferred to India by 2010.
He claims that firms are moving out of necessity rather than choice. The pressure comes from the 1% stakeholder charge and the increasing cost inflation in general insurance.
“It is almost impossible for companies to make profits on their core insurance business in the UK,” he said. “Their need to achieve radical cost reductions results in cuts to the number of UK employees – and the only alternatives, short of giving up altogether, are to use technology to reduce the amount of manual work required or move the jobs offshore.”
For firms moving their call centre operations abroad, the savings are considerable. Accenture claims that Indian payroll costs are between 10% and 20% of UK levels. When taking into account the cost of running offshore centres, achievable annual savings ranged from 40% to 60%.
Although major firms - Axa and Royal & Sun Alliance for example - have already transferred part of their support operations abroad, Lathrope claims that these operations are currently “small beer”. However, he does say that these facilities are “just to test the water,” and that soon the bulk of customer service and claims-processing will move to India and other developing business centres.
By Geoffrey Ho
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