The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has announced that it will shut 38 branches across the country between December and June despite an earlier commitment not to close any regional branches until 2022.
Eight BNZ branches – including Courtenay Place, Mt Maunganui, and Pakuranga – will close on Christmas Eve. Another 14 will close between February and March, and a further 16 will shut between April and June.
In 2019, BNZ chief customer officer Paul Carter said BNZ aims to be accessible, so it would keep all its regional branches open until at least 2022. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced banks and organisations to go digital.
“We don’t take this decision lightly. We made our commitment to regional branches in good faith. Not only was it a commitment to the communities we serve, but it was also a commitment to our people, as closing a branch used to mean losing jobs,” Carter said, as reported by Stuff.
“However, COVID changed everything. Our customers have embraced digital services and tools, and our bankers are serving customers, irrespective of where they are. We’ve shown we can work from anywhere and there are job opportunities for all our people – it reflects the ongoing shift in how our customers are choosing to bank with us.”
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Carter said three-quarters of BNZ customers were “digitally active,” leaving bankers “waiting in empty branches for customers that simply do not arrive.”
“Branches will still have a role in how we serve our customers. We will continue to invest in modern customer centres to help customers take advantage of online banking and our digital tools and where they can access specialist services,” he continued.
BNZ will work with the staff of the closed branches to find opportunities within the company.
“Our people have embraced the flexibility of remote working. It suits our customers, and our people and changes to our office space reflect that,” Carter said.
“We’ve given ourselves a long runway before closing our regional branches so we can support the small number of customers that regularly use these locations to adopt alternative ways of banking.”