NatWest shuts down branch it pledged to keep open forever

NatWest shuts down branch it pledged to keep open forever

A 2010 TV campaign by NatWest to promote its commitment to maintaining a high street presence in small communities has come back to haunt the beleaguered UK bank, as it prepares to shut down the very branch used in the advert.

In the national TV slot, a NatWest employee stands outside the branch in Knott End, Lancashire, pledging to "provide banking services forever if we're the last bank in town".

The bank now says that the village bank will close in September, following a sharp drop in transactions as customers move to online and mobile channels. The bank says traffic in the branch has slipped by 21% since 2011, and that customers can now conduct routine transactions at the local Post Office.

Reflecting the shifting sands in modern banking, the bank's more recent ads proclaim that its 'busiest branch' is now on the daily commuter train as consumers deal with their finances by mobile phone on the way into work.

Comments: (5)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 24 June, 2015, 01:362 likes 2 likes

Again: Elderly persons who do not use smartphones or computers are the victims of such branch closures. But unfortunately they have no lobby.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 24 June, 2015, 11:151 like 1 like

agree that it is an issue , but speak to AGE UK if you think there is not an effective lobby group.The ex Chair of the Payments Council who tried to withdraw cheques ,will beg to differ with you regarding their  effectiveness.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 24 June, 2015, 11:19Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

As I have always said, the UK bank that maintains a strong High Street presence with properly trained staff to meet their customers face to face when the customer wants to meet NOT at the behest of the bank on a sales pitch will clean up on the UK financial services market. Day to day transactions may be done over the internet/phone but customers still want to talk to proper bank managers. As the previous commentator says the elderly dont use the internet regardless of what the Barclays Eagles state.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 24 June, 2015, 11:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Whilst i agree with Ulrich Rosenbaum on the victims of branch closures, i would point to the power of the "grey lobby", notably Age UK who were in the forefront of lobbying against the planning to close the cheque clearing which proved so embarrassing for the UK Payments Council. In that case the enforceed reversal of plans hinged on the inability to produce evidence to government that the disadvantaged groups who could/would not move to new methods would be catered for when the cheque clearing closed.   

The loss of buisness through branches should therefore be a trigger for deeper thinking tahn just cost saving: sharing branches or outsourcing to organisations (e.g. the Post Office mentioned above) who are committed to providing a wider range of face to face services - or indeed taking on this wider role themselves. An ideal soliution woudl leve other wise disadvantaged grousp with a potentially BETTER solution, whilst finding new ways to capitalise on the channel, (e.g. could you apply for  passport at a bank - leverging their KYC investment?) In the wake of the inevitability of digital self-service becoming the primary channel for retail banking this will require some serious out of the box, and potentially collaboratiive thinking. Avoiding doing this could end up being an expensive ommission.  

Robert Burch
Robert Burch - Independent Consultant - Cotswolds 25 June, 2015, 10:27Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I think the Finextra member in the 24 June 11:19 post is describing Metro Bank's philosophy.  It will be interesting to see if they do clean up.

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