PTSB hiring 200 staff in bid to lure Ulster Bank deposits

Bank says it wants to make transition for customers ‘as smooth as possible’

Permanent TSB (PTSB) is currently hiring about 200 staff for its branches and central operations to help manage an expected surge in Ulster Bank current account and savings customers shifting deposits in the coming months as the UK-owned lender hastens a retreat from the Republic.

While the positions are contract roles, a spokeswoman for PTSB said that “there will likely be opportunities for these new colleagues beyond their contracted period” as the group grows “significantly” over the next 18 months.

The search for frontline banking staff is a temporary departure from a sustained trend since the financial crash which has seen lenders, including for PTSB, cut thousands of traditional industry jobs.

PTSB shed 300 banking jobs last year on foot of a redundancy programme announced in late 2020. Still, the bank also went about creating 300 new jobs in 2021 in the areas such as digital, data analytics, customer service and risk management as the pandemic accelerated the pace of online banking and technology transformation across the industry.


A spokeswoman for PTSB said that the current recruitment drive for “200 new colleagues across our branch and operations teams” comes as the bank seeks to attract Ulster Bank customers and make the transition “as smooth as possible” through its branch network and mobile phone app.

Switching process

Ulster Bank’s deposits declined by €€1.4 billion over the course of last year to €18.6 billion as customers began moving accounts elsewhere. The bank plans to start writing soon to almost 1 million personal and business customers setting them deadlines of six months to switch and close their current and deposit accounts with the lender.

PTSB is alone among the remaining three banks in the market in needing additional deposits as it needs additional funds to help acquire an estimated €6.8 billion of Ulster Bank mortgages and small-business loans, which would increase the size of its balance sheet by close to 50 per cent.

The wider Irish banking system is grappling with billions of euro excess deposits, with the problem compounded by a surge in household savings during Covid-19 lockdowns.

While PTSB’s €18.9 billion deposits book at the end of September was €4 billion larger than its loan portfolio, it will need to attract additional deposits over the near term to help fund its planned transformational Ulster Bank portfolio acquisition.

Some 450 of Ulster Bank’s 2,500 employees are set to transfer to PTSB with the deal, which also includes 25 bank branches.

The Central Bank said last week that a review it carried out into the remaining banks' ability to deal with an increase in customer activity, as Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland exit the market, found a number of shortcomings.

Bank customers have had to endure waits of up to two hours for telephone support, with as many as 50 per cent of one bank’s customers simply giving up and ending calls before being able to speak to a human being, it said.

Increased personnel

Bank of Ireland said that it is increasing resources across contact centres, operations and in branch to facilitate switchers from Ulster Bank. "We have increased personnel in our contact centres significantly since late last year," a spokesman for the group said, declining to give figures.

AIB has also begun to put in place a "range of initiatives" to help make it easier for new customers to join the company. "This includes digital account opening solutions and we are in the process of allocating substantial additional resources and staff," it said.

Ulster Bank committed publicly at the end of October to providing customers with six months’ notice to close their accounts from early next year, as it urged them to start getting ready for changes in 2022 as part of its withdrawal from the Irish market. The bank said last week that it plans to start writing notice letters to customers “shortly”.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times