At JPMorgan, voicemail deemed obsolescent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Voicemail is going the way of the typewriter, at least at JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N.

A view of the exterior of the JP Morgan Chase & Co. Corporate headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The Wall Street bank is eliminating voicemail for thousands of employees who do not take calls from customers, at a savings of $10 a month per person, Gordon Smith, chief executive of the company’s consumer banking operations, said at an investor conference on Tuesday.

Smith made the point to show how his executives are questioning every cost in their drive to save $2 billion in annual expenses by 2017.

“We realize that hardly anyone uses voicemail anymore,” Smith said. “We are all carrying something in our pockets that is going to get texts or email or a phone call,” he said. “We started to cut those off.”

The service is being cut only for employees who do not deal directly with customers, spokeswoman Patricia Wexler said later. Managers still have discretion to keep it for employees who need it, she said.

She declined to say exactly how many voicemail boxes are being taken out, but said the consumer bank is eliminating 65 percent of its boxes. The division expects to save $3.2 million a year from the move.

At $120 of savings each year per person, the total implies that more than 26,000 boxes are being closed. Wexler said some savings occurred when suppliers responded to the cuts by offering lower rates for reduced services.

When the consumer bank started to take out the service earlier this year, managers were surprised that some employees wanted their voicemail removed immediately, because they said it was too much trouble, Wexler said.

The move to cut voicemail has now spread to JPMorgan’s investment banking divisions, Wexler said.

Information technology employees who work across the company started shedding their voice mail last year, she said.

Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler