Banking report criticises branch closures

Banks need to offer more support to businesses and elderly customers when they close regional branches, according to a review of banking protocols.

Russel Griggs, appointed by the British Bankers’ Association to assess the industry protocol, suggests in the report that banks need to consider more innovations to aid customers.

With branch closures seen as a means to cut costs and with digital banking on the rise, the report suggests that more could be done to support customers.

Griggs revealed that 600 branches have closed in the past 18 months, equating to around 7.5% of a total of 8,000.

He suggests that although banks attempted to follow protocol properly, significant improvements can still be made in terms of communications and customer engagement.

The report suggests that small businesses face difficulties given that they regularly pay in cash takings, something that takes more time if a branch is no longer local.

One option, according to Griggs, would be to have banks offer a cash pick-up service for businesses, helping to ease some of the pressure on those trying to expand their companies.

Spending too much time on admin tasks and financial management can make it difficult for business owners to focus on growing their business, but they are essential issues.

Traditional banks are not the only source of finance either, as a raft of alternative finance options do exist that can help a company, especially if it facing difficulties.

According to the BBA, it isn’t all bad news for small businesses though, as banks have reportedly accepted the recommendations put forward in the report.

This will see trained staff in branches to help customers find alternative options and to help minimise disruption to business accounts when they close.

The report also found a reluctance among elderly customers to use digital banking services, as they had concerns over security and were particularly reliant on cash.

Its findings have also been supported by the Finance Foundation, who suggest the recommendations made in the report can help to bring positive change.

By Phil Smith

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