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BBA: The era of bank branches is dead

The era of traditional high street bank branches is dead, says British Bankers’ Association chief executive Anthony Browne.

As research by the BBA shows three in four consumers uses mobile or internet banking each month, Browne told the Telegraph that “branch numbers will continue to fall”.

He says those who call for a return to traditional branch banking are “out of kilter with what millions of customers want”, and that the “supposed golden age of banking” is a myth.

Browne says: “The way we bank now is far easier and faster.”

But he stopped short of saying branches will disappear altogether, arguing they will continue to play a role for major transactions such as arranging a mortgage.

The report shows most major banks are seeing a 10 per cent annual fall in branch transactions.

Browne says: “When you can do so much of your basic banking tasks from the palm of your hand or at a cash machine, why bother taking time out of your day?

“When I told a bank chairman recently that I last visited a branch three months ago, he was surprised it was that recent.”

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Comments

There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Few working people will mourn the decline of the traditional 9-5 bank branch. However, with the supermarkets finally pushing into banking and innovators like Metro entering the market face to face banking will be different and probably smaller but not gone.

  2. This is all fine as far as it goes but will create increasing problems for those without internet access and for small businesses who need to get mundane things like change for their tills etc.
    The banks will regret this in the future as those driven on line will be much more likely to make a check on the competitiveness of the service/product offered.
    Goodbye profit margin or goodbye client in these circumstances!!

  3. Grey Haired Underwriter 7th July 2014 at 11:35 am

    My how they wish to reduce their costs! They need to remember that remote banking is not for everyone and that banking systems have continued to show weaknesses – weaknesses that will only become more pronounced as they add more facilities to very old base systems. I for one am dubious as to their firewall abilities and feel very uncomfortable as to their ability to keep my data safe. Perhaps I am a little old fashioned but i also think that face to face contact is the best way to keep a customer

  4. This is a typical banking distortion of the truth from the BBA. The banks wish to close more branches to reduce costs & drive up profits, so they do everything they can to force traffic elsewhere. For example, reducing tellers from five down to one or two & not providing cover at busy periods & then claiming nobody is using the service! Now, they have the absolute right to do that – they are businesses, not charities after all! But, hiding behind & blaming the customer, is just not true.

  5. This is a typical banking distortion of the truth from the BBA. The banks wish to close more branches to reduce costs & drive up profits, so they do everything they can to force traffic elsewhere. For example, reducing tellers from five down to one or two & not providing cover at busy periods & then claiming nobody is using the service! Now, they have the absolute right to do that – they are businesses, not charities after all! But, hiding behind & blaming the customer, is just not true.

  6. Personally I think that is a dated view. All a bit 2002 if you ask me!

    Businesses experiencing growth are embedding experiential marketing into their overall service offering and ensuring that their businesses become customer and service oriented – online is simply just part of that overall experience, not a replacement of it.

    Look at Apple for example, it offers customers full range of services and experiences by blending online, phyicial, non-physical, tangible and non tangible – each is a component of a full experiential proposition.

    There are quasi online banks, first direct for example, but even they rely on parent HSBC to deliver some of it.

    Also with banking, I believe consumers want online for quick stuff but still want localised delegated service for problems, decisions, and more complex issues etc. MMR etc etc certainly play into this. What I do agree with is that most bank branches are dull, uninspiring , lack power, and add little value.

    I think what we will see is bigger but fewer branches, delegation to local branches, and a more engaging in-branch experience.

    Maybe you could look to Metrobank as an example of what the future looks like?

  7. Thwe problem is that internet banking is not secure.

  8. I have had much experience of visiting bank branches recently, for the purpose of registering a power of attorney with several banks and subsequently to put things back on track when telephone communications went wrong.

    My impression is that there are still plenty of customers willing to queue up in branches and that getting a face-to-face appointment at short notice is usually not possible, due to demand from other customers.

    I have found that telephone communications with bank officers are a poor substitute for face-to-face communications. Telephone communications sometimes end up with the bank officer reading from a script the words ‘I can’t continue with this conversation. Goodbye’. As for the internet, I saw this as a non-starter.

    Concerning the bank Chairman that was surprised that Tessa had visited a branch as recently as the last three months, I expect that he and other bank Chairmen receive an entirely different level of service than do ordinary customers and that bank Chairmen have little idea of the difficulties increasingly faced by customers and people connected with customers when having to undertake unusual or complicated activities with banks.

    It will be a sad day if branches disappear from the high street.

  9. They’ll lose the ability to cross sell, but the logic would be a combined banking branch for cash transactions with one of the big four taking responsibility for it in each area (or a post office style) and then different rented desks occupied by different banks for customer service face to face issues.

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