Shared approach could minimise branch closures, experts say

Banking experts in the UK have recently come forward to state that the adoption of a shared approach when it comes to local financial service providers could minimise the impact of branch closures in communities where all other banks have already shuttered their doors.

Representatives from the Campaign for Community Banking Services say that High Street providers of personal and business bank accounts need to begin considering sharing branches, particularly out in the country where the closure of the last remaining branch can be devastating to rural communities.  Age UK and other charities have allied themselves with the campaign group as well in light of news that both HSBC and Santander will be paring back their branch networks in the future.

HSBC stated that it will be closing 11 more branches by June of this year, leading to a total of 21 in the first six months of 2012; the previous year saw the bank close 47.  Santander is taking even more drastic steps, as the Spain-based bank has announced a branch network scaling back that will see 56 branches across the UK disappear.

Santander’s argument behind the large number of closures stems from an excess of locations due to the inclusion of the Bradford  & Bingley and Alliances & Leicester networks into their own.  However, HSBC lacks any similar justification for the high number of closures over 2011 and 2012.

Five of the 11 HSBC branches closing are considered to be ‘the last in town,’ with these communities being effectively abandoned due to a lack of full service bank branches.  Unlike other High Street banks, HSBC stands alone in refusing to keep these communities afloat by pledging to not close any last-in-town branch.

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