BBA launches review into branch closure protocol
06 May 2016 | 6171 views | 3
With many of its members closing large numbers of branches, trade association the British Banking Association is launching an independent review into the protocol on minimising the impact of closures on customers.
As banks drastically cut the size of their branch networks in response to the migration of customers to digital channels, last March the biggest high street players worked with consumer groups and government on an industry-wide agreement on closure procedures.
The protocol requires banks to provide 12 weeks' notice of branch closures, engage with local communities and to publish assessments of the impact on customers - but stresses that decisions on whether to close sites are ultimately commercial.
The agreement included a provision for a one year review, which is now being carried out for the BBA by Professor Russel Griggs, looking into how the protocol is being applied and the outcomes for affected customers and communities.
Says Griggs: "It’s vital that the protocol meets its aim of minimising the impact of bank branch closures on customers and local communities. This review will not only be looking at how the processes behind the protocol are working in practice, but also crucially the outcomes that they are delivering."
Already this year both Lloyds and RBS have outlined plans to reduce the size of their branch networks as they bid to cut costs and take advantage of the growing popularity of online and mobile banking.
But a survey last year by TSB found that more than three quarters of Brits think that it is important that their bank offers both online and branch services.
Anthony Browne, chief executive, BBA, says: "More and more of us are adopting digital services to manage our money while on the move, without having to travel to a branch. Banking is in the midst of a customer-led revolution. It is important, however, that customers still have access to banking services if a local bank branch closes for commercial reasons."