- HSBC: 62 closures in 2017
- Lloyds: 200 closures in 2017
- NatWest/RBS: Has no projections yet, but said: ?Since the inception of the Access to Banking Protocol in May 2015, we have taken the difficult decision to close 191 branches?
- Santander: Branch optimisation strategy after 2008 acquisitions of Abbey, Alliance and Leicester and Bradford & Bingley meaning the closure of branches where there were two on one street
- TSB: Nine branch closures planned for 2017, with 29 closed in 2016 and 18 in 2015 all following the 2013 division of Lloyds TSB into Lloyds and TSB
- Barclays: No closure figures as yet, but 72 closed in 2014, 126 closed in 2015 and 57 closed in 2016
- Metro: Set to open 10-12 in 2017
- Handelsbanken: Do not set plans in place but opened one branch in 2016, 17 in 2015 and 10 in 2014
Fans of bank branchesFor Bizdaq CEO Sean Mallon, while he does use online banking regularly he believes there is no substitute for having physical branch branches you can go into. ?We, like many other small businesses, still deal with payment through cheques and without a branch to pay them into we wouldn?t be able to access that money,” he explained. Being able to speak to someone face-to-face in a bank is also very useful for us as a business, as it ensures that if we do have any issues, we re able to resolve them far easier than through a live online chat. The creation of digital-only services such as Tide have thrown up the debate of how business owners can secure advice and guidance when it comes to financial issues. Speaking to our sister title Business Adivce, Tide’s founder and CEO George Bevis said his company’s response to this is an online community. ?We take the view that bankers have historically been terrible sources of advice and guidance far worse than accountants and other real experts,” he added. We want to create an open space where our members can share their expertise and discuss their needs. But this new-found approach to handling your company’s finances does not sit well with Tom Jeffery, head of ecommerce at high street clothes chain Jules B. He and the business prefer physical branches, and deal with them almost every day. We feel safer and more secure using banks that we are able to physically visit, usually with the day’s taking from the stores. We also get a more personal service this way. Janet Murray of media training business Soulful PR is also of this thinking. She “hates” that she can’t get into a bank to speak with a ?real person” about her account. With a limited company, various income streams and lots of questions/challenges needing help with, she feels banks are missing a trick when it comes to small business advice and support. “I?d happily pay extra to have the option to meet with someone to review my accounts quarterly or once a year but they just don’t seem interested,” she revealed. TSB, since coming back to the UK high street in 2013, has decided to take a different approach with its branches. After surveying customers and finding out that?87 per cent?wanted TSB staff on hand to help, a “human touch and personal service” remains in bank?branches. However, as?60 per cent?want more self-service facilities, TSB has also decided to boost?this element too. Whatever happens in the future, incumbent high street banks will have to adapt and move with the times improving digital offerings and making it easier for time-pressed company?owners to deal with their finances in the most expedient way. As we’ve found out by speaking with British business builders, there is still a desire to access face-to-face advice and guidance when necessary. Banks must work out how to do this cost effectively and on a wide enough scale around the UK.
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