Major banks “abandoning regional New Zealand”: Union

by NZ Adviser22 Sep 2016
Westpac has confirmed it will close 19 branches across New Zealand in early November and ANZ is planning to potentially shut down six more branches after announcing the closure of its Ngaruawahia branch.

“Our members in the branches are asking ‘who’s next,’” said FIRST Union national organizer, Tali Williams.

“ANZ is consulting on closure proposals at branches across the country. Our members are nervous because some of the redeployment options on the table are unrealistic.

“ANZ branch workers in towns like Milton and Hokitika are expected to take up redeployment in Christchurch if their branch closes. But Christchurch is more than three hours’ drive away.

“Meanwhile, towns like Te Aroha and Otorohanga are taking a double hit with Westpac shutting up shop and ANZ looking to do the same,” said Williams.

“The major banks appear to be systematically abandoning regional New Zealand.”

Westpac said the closures were part of adapting to the rise in online transactions by customers, according to the NZ Herald

The bank said in a statement that it will be open to discussion with community leaders on the submissions and feedback given by staff and communities. 

"Customers ... expect 24/7 access to their banking - currently more than 85 per cent of service transactions take place outside of a branch," Westpac said.

"Over the last five years, online transactions increased by 61 per cent and in the last year online logins via a mobile device have increased by 33 per cent."

Westpac branches closing:
Kamo, Cherrywood in Tauranga, Broadway Avenue in Palmerston North, Bishopdale in Christchurch, Gardens in Dunedin, Waikanae, Carterton, Raglan, Ranfurly, Te Aroha, Fendalton Mall in Christchurch, Putaruru, Whangamata, Takaka, Stoke, Wainuiomata, Te Anau, Fairlie and Otorohanga.

ANZ branch closing:

ANZ branches proposed to close:
Massey University (Palmerston North), Milton, Hokitika, Waitara, Te Aroha and Otorohanga.


  • by Glen 22/09/2016 12:13:47 p.m.

    Not a straight forward argument for and against for this one. I have been, a few years ago now, a branch manager for one of the Westpac branches due to close. No doubt the use of branches from bank clients have significantly reduced, and the cost of keeping a branch open, even a small branch, is not insignificant - staff wages, lease on building, insurance, cash repatriation etc. With that said, all banks have encouraged their customers to use electronic banking and have long since introduced over the counter type fees should a customers wish to use a branch. Certainly not as simple as Westpac stating that customers have flocked to online services as they have certainly been pushed. Some credit does need to go to the likes of Westpac for keeping these stores open for as long as they have as most other banks have long since departed. I note that KiwiBank whilst opening new branches are not wanting to fill the void given they will know that a branch there would run at a loss. A branch has always had to write mortgages and secure depositors funds to remain viable. Over the counter transactions have always been a loss leader. This all goes back to selling the banks many years ago. Whilst a truly state owned bank with historically held branches in these locations would likely continue to stay open, naïve to believe a foreign owned bank would do the same. I just hope members of the bank customers treat the staff in these branches well. They are after all the ones losing there livelihood.

  • by Chris 22/09/2016 5:55:23 p.m.

    One of the major reasons that selling the BNZ to Australian interests was a total tragedy is unfolding before us. Yes the banks have to make a profit for their shareholders, but banks rely on depositors as a mainstay of their business; we have all heard that depositors are the lifeblood of the bank and you cannot gather deposits where there is no bank. All the major banks are now Australian owned and they have all sold their New Zealand premises and other major assets, something which used to be a feature of their doing business in New Zealand. They all had a financial commitment within the community that they served. What is now left is a shell of an operation. All that banks in New Zealand can lay claim to is a database of customers and a loyal staff. Their commitment to New Zealand and our economy is tenuous at best. Without having at least one major bank in New Zealand, under local ownership there will not be a counter argument or local competitive pressure holding the Australian banks to account. When they decide to upstakes and move on they have little that will need to be liquidated. When will that day come I wonder?

  • by Disgruntled in Hokitika 7/10/2016 6:14:38 a.m.

    The closures are very short sighted.

    The question is whether there is still an independent bank in NZ that can fill the void and grow.

    But then most of the corporate world these days are only focused on the quarter's earnings and management protecting their shares.

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