Swedish bank Handelsbanken has announced plans to axe approximately 1,600 jobs over the next four years to improve operational efficiency and cut expenses.

The Stockholm-headquartered bank, which offers universal banking services, said that the removal of Handelsbanken jobs was in response to digitalisation of various banking services.

Handelsbanken jobs

In its January to September interim report, the bank said: “Measures to improve operating efficiency are a natural and constantly ongoing process at Handelsbanken. Digitalisation now provides opportunities to enhance this work.

“The current project portfolio implies measures that generate improved efficiency equivalent to at least 1,600 full time equivalents. This is expected to take place at a more or less steady pace over the next four years.”

The move comes as the bank posted operating profit of SEK5.34bn ($587m) for the third quarter of 2018. The figure represented a fall of 1% compared to SEK5.42bn in the same period last year.

The bank’s quarterly net interest income was SEK7.86bn, a 4% rise from SEK7.58bn in the previous year. Total income rose 5% to SEK10.73bn on a year-on-year basis.

The Swedish lender further stated that the process of transferring the operations of Handelsbanken UK to the newly established subsidiary Handelsbanken plc is progressing. The migration is expected to be completed by 29 March 2019.

In addition, the bank said that its CEO Anders Bouvin will retire on 31 August 2019.