Between the lines: Decisions are well thought out

Banking has moved away from the traditional branch on the high street. Picture: John Devlin
Banking has moved away from the traditional branch on the high street. Picture: John Devlin
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ANNOUNCING branch closures and job losses is always difficult. We are acutely aware of the impact these decisions have on our loyal customers and staff.

Where branches are closed and jobs are cut we will do everything in our power to support customers, whilst also providing redeployment opportunities for staff and keeping the number of compulsory redundancies to a minimum.

Ultimately, we take these decisions after careful consideration – and on a case-by-case basis – by looking at how our customers want to interact with us and responding to their needs. Branches remain the cornerstone of the service we provide – we still have nearly 1,300 across the country. But the way our customers are choosing to bank with us has fundamentally changed, and continues to do so. Since 2010, simple transactions at branch counters have fallen by 43 per cent, whilst the use of online and mobile banking has increased by 400 per cent. That is why we are closing some branches where there isn’t demand for them. But it is also why we are now providing more ways to bank with us than ever before and increasing investment in our online offering and in our market-leading mobile banking app.

We also know that when customers do come into branches it is often for significant, life-changing decisions such as taking out a mortgage or starting up their own business.

More than half of our branches have been refurbished in recent years to make them fit for purpose, and we continue to open new branches where they are needed.

In 2016, an additional £100 million will be spent on further refurbishments and to modernise and improve the technology within our branches as we create a new data network and add new hardware, whilst also introducing more Automated Deposit Units and coin in machines.

The era of tired, dingy banking halls with staff sitting behind a glass screen is coming to an end. We’re investing more and more in our people to ensure that when customers come into a branch to save, borrow or invest, they are met by experts who are able to serve a range of financial needs.

We’ve taken a number of steps that differentiate us from other banks and to ensure our customers get the fairest service possible. None of our frontline staff are incentivised to sell customers products. Instead, we’ve increased basic pay and removed all sales-related incentives so their only purpose is to look after customers as well as they possibly can. 

We understand that changes to our branch network will raise questions and cause some concerns. But I hope I have gone some way to explaining how the action we are taking reflects our determination to make this bank stronger, simpler and fairer and ever more rooted in the ways our customers want to bank with us.

• Les Matheson, CEO, personal and business banking, RBS.