AIB to hire up to 700 temporary staff to help with Ulster and KBC customers

Bank expecting a surge in new business as foreign-owned lenders exit

AIB is planning to hire as many as 700 temporary staff to help manage an expected surge in Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland customers seeking to open current and deposit accounts elsewhere in the coming months as the foreign-owned lenders retreat from the Republic.

"This is a huge opportunity for AIB," chief executive Colin Hunt told reporters after the bank's annual general meeting in Dublin on Thursday. "Here we have an opportunity to welcome hundreds of thousands of new customers. I want to ensure … that that transition process from Ulster Bank or from KBC to AIB is as fiction free as possible. It's a huge lift for the organisation."

The bank estimates it will have to deploy between 500 and 1,000 staff to help with the transition, according to Mr Hunt. About 300 of these will be from existing staff, with the remainder to be hired on a temporary basis.

It is understood that as many of 100 temporary workers have already been engaged.

The remaining banks in the market say the vast majority of new customers who are signing on are doing so directly, using digital apps. However, some banks, such as AIB and Permanent TSB, require people setting up joint accounts do so in person in physical branches. AIB’s EBS unit is an outlier among the current account providers in the Republic in not facilitating the opening of personal current accounts online.

Central Bank officials warned last month that exiting and remaining banks were not up to speed with managing the process as more than one million Ulster Bank and KBC Ireland current and deposit accounts are forced to find new homes for their money over the next year or so.

Deposit book

KBC Bank Ireland’s deposit book is on track to move to Bank of Ireland along with most of the Belgian-owned company’s performing loan books. However, holders of 130,000 active current accounts with the bank will need to move.

Last week saw AIB receive competition approval to proceed with its planned acquisition of €3.7 billion of Ulster Bank corporate and commercial loans. The bank also disclosed that it had entered exclusive talks to buy Ulster Bank’s €6 billion of tracker mortgages.

Some 280 Ulster Bank staff are set to move to AIB with the corporate and commercial loans over the coming months. Mr Hunt said no staff are in line to transfer with the tracker loans.