Fiserv hired “thousands” of employees globally this year, even as others were cut from the payments technology company because they were unwilling to relocate, the company's CEO said in an interview with Payments Dive.
“We did not let people go this year, other than we hired thousands of people in new locations, and other people didn’t move,” Frank Bisignano said Friday.
Fiserv Spokesperson Ann Cave declined to share a more specific figure, but said thousands “encompasses hiring across all geographies where Fiserv has a presence and represents all areas of the business.” Some hiring has been for new roles, while in other situations, the company replaced employees who left, she said.
Brookfield, Wisconsin-based Fiserv has shed workers this year while grappling with profit margin pressure. The company also sold off business units, including its Korea operations and a Costa Rica division.
Cave has also declined to specify the number of employees that have been cut this year, other than to say Fiserv has made staffing adjustments that affect a “small percentage” of its global workforce.
The company has maintained that it has about 44,000 employees around the world. Still, its share of workers outside the U.S. has grown in recent years as its overall count has stayed the same, based on regulatory filings from 2019, 2020 and 2021.
CEO takes long-term view
When asked about employee cuts the company has made this year, Bisignano said they weren’t in response to this year’s pressures. “I think it’s about investment strategy in our business,” he said.
He pointed to Fiserv’s merger and integration with First Data, and the combined company’s March 2019 pledge to cut costs. When Fiserv acquired First Data in 2019 in a $22 billion all-stock deal, the company said it would cut $900 million in expenses over five years, according to a proxy filing. Fiserv actually ended up shaving $1.2 billion in half that time, and “stopped counting synergies at the end of last year when we hit the $1.2B number,” Cave said in an email.
With the Fiserv-First Data merger announcement, company executives planned to invest in facilities and staff, aiming for a “colocation strategy and a hybrid workforce,” Bisignano said.
“We said when we were doing that, that we would be a different company,” Bisignano said. “Yes, we did announce that we were going to relocate people, we were going to have synergies. So this is a long-term strategy.”
Some workers were offered the chance to relocate to Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, where the company recently opened one of its “hub” facilities. Fiserv has promised to create and retain about 3,000 jobs at that location in exchange for $109.2 million in state tax credits over seven years.
“It’s very normal in a merger to be recruiting,” while also “consolidating,” Bisignano said.
It's possible Fiserv is making a lot of tech-focused hires now that its Berkeley Heights facility is officially open, while simultaneously cutting people from the parts of the business that have become lower priority, such as parts of the merchant acceptance segment that aren’t tied to commerce platforms Clover or Carat, said Autonomous Research Analyst Ken Suchoski. Still, thousands "certainly seems a lot higher than what we would expect," he said in an email.
How Bisignano views economic climate
In light of inflation pressures and rising unemployment, Bisignano said he does “worry” about the tougher economic environment. Still, he doesn’t expect those headwinds to be “worse than the low point of the pandemic and what happened in a shutdown of the economy.” At that time, the company was still able to grow its earnings per share by double digits, he said.
“We have a very resilient business model,” Bisignano asserted, pointing to services the company provides to restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores, as well as the key services it provides to bank clients.
He also noted investments such as those in the company’s Clover point-of-sale operating system and recent acquisitions the company has made. “We don’t need to deviate from our strategy,” Bisignano said.