- BNZ has planned to shut down 38 branches over the next 7 months despite a pledge taken in June 2019 to not shut any of its branches until at least 2022.
- COVID-19 accelerated digital usage with about 75% of customers digitally active and bankers sitting idle in empty branches waiting for customers.
- Paul Carter BNZ Chief Customer Officer has stated BNZ would work with the bankers in the affected branches to identify new prospects within the bank, and every affected employee would get another role.
Banks have been closing their branches as more and more people are doing online banking.
Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has decided to close another 38 branches across NZ over the next 7 months even after an earlier pledge to not close any regional branches until 2022.
About 8 branches will close on 24 December 2020, another 14 will be shut down between February and March 2021, and further 16 will close down between April and June next year.
BNZ’s pledge to not close branches until at least 2022
In June 2019, BNZ had committed to keep its regional branch network open for at least the next 3 years.
Paul Carter Chief Customer Officer had stated that the bank was focussed on being available and accessible to all customers, which was the reason behind the commitment to keep its branches open until at least 2022. However, he highlighted that changes were expected in future to the approach Kiwis bank.
Mr Carter had stated that though many everyday transactions are now being done digitally, customers are looking for the help of BNZ branches to guide them through crucial moments like purchasing a new home, setting up KiwiSaver or help them in using new digital tools.
He also asserted on the need to establish a right balance between physical presence where bank’s customers can receive physical advice and digital usage that aid smooth day-to-day banking.
COVID-19 changed BNZ plans
Commenting on the decision to close its branches, Mr Carter stated that the commitment to keep regional branches open till 2022, was made in good faith. BNZ took this pledge not only for communities that the bank serves but also for people who would lose jobs from the closure of branches.
He further noted, COVID-19 triggered the digital usage with the bank serving customers irrespective of the place they were at. About 75% of the customers were digitally active.
Mr Carter stated that BNZ has shown that the bank can operate from anywhere and there are job prospects for all of its people, signifying the continuing shift in how BNZ customers are choosing to do banking.
He noted that BNZ would work with its employees in its branches to help them find jobs at BNZ irrespective of where they were based. Carter stated that alterations to its branch network were part of a broader review of all BNZ locations to strengthen its workforce.
BNZ is one of the 6 banks participating in the regional banking hub trial, which began this month, examining the demand for basic banking services in local communities.