Bankwest to close 29 east coast branches, cut 200 jobs

Bankwest is closing 29 branches along Australia's east coast and cutting 200 jobs, saying customers are increasingly using mobile banking. Bankwest, which is owned by Commonwealth Bank, says the branches will close over a three-week period from August 17, reducing its east coast footprint to 14 branches.

Managing director Rowan Munchenberg blamed rapid changes in the digital space and said Bankwest could not match the physical footprint of the bigger banks.

"We're seeing a consistent trend of customers choosing mobile banking over in- branch options for their transaction needs, with an 88 per cent rise in app logins over the past three years," he said on Wednesday in a statement.

Mr Munchenberg said the bank's operations were being overhauled to "respond more rapidly" to changing customer needs.

"But we know we can't match the major banks' nation-wide footprint and also deliver world class digital services, so we will prioritise digital channels and broker relationships," he said.

A Bankswest spokesman said the company would endeavour to find new roles for the 200 staff within CBA's operations.

More than half the branch closures are in NSW, with the rest in Victoria and Queensland.

The Finance Sector Union's national secretary, Julia Angrisano, said staff had been shocked by the decision to shut 68 per cent of its east coast branches, claiming the move was designed to prop up CBA's profit.

“For an entire branch network to almost disappear overnight will have lasting impacts on Bankwest employees, their customers and the communities in which they belong,” Ms Angrisano said. “These closures will hit local communities hard and bank workers will be struggling to find other work in areas where jobs are scarce."

As banks face financial pressure to close more branches, the union is calling on banks including CBA to consult with customers and communities about the future of bank branch networks.

Bankwest had 82 branches and three standalone business centres in Western Australia, the bank spokesman said.

Published: 19 July 2018

Source: https://www.smh.com.au



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