Westpac cuts IT staff with core banking system redevelopment

Staff expects Wellington IT operation to eventually be wound down

Westpac Bank continues to replace full-time information technology staff in Wellington with contractors as it moves towards a packaged solution for its core banking system.

Current and former staff who spoke to Computerworld on condition of anonymity say they expect the Wellington IT operation to eventually be wound down and that the bank doesn’t want to take one huge redundancy hit when that happens.

“That said, they’ve treated us very well,” says one former long-time staffer who was made redundant.

Another noted that when the bank moved many of its IT staff into Optimation House recently, it installed 400 desks but there are only around 300 staff.

“They’re looking to replace the core banking systems with a banking package that will reduce the time to bring new products to market,” one said.

“New Zealand looks like a trial for the corporation. We expect that when it’s completed, probably within three years, it will all be outsourced.”

Core systems currently include CRS (Customer Registry), WASP (Westpac Account Screens Platform), and CIF (Customer Information).

“The bank’s looking at a two by two — two banking packages and two implementers,” one staffer says. He says the implementers are IBM and Accenture. “It’s about getting off the mainframe,” the staffer says.

Westpac’s New Zealand CIO, David Boyes, was recruited late in 2005 from IBM Global Services in Australia where he was a director.

At the time, the position was upgraded as a direct report to the managing director. Westpac is entering year seven of a 10-year outsourcing contract with IBM.

The contract was reconfigured in 2005 to reflect technology and pricing changes.

Computerworld approached Westpac late last year about rumours in the market that it was looking to replace its core banking system but received a bland answer that it had multiple systems it continued to develop.

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