The ANZ bank has announced (fairly quietly) that it will close its branch on Benabrow Ave, Bribie Island in August this year following the example of Suncorp and others who have closed up shop on Bribie in recent years.
Small business is trying to lift the area up economically and improve services to locals while multi nations do the opposite in a relentless search for higher dividends to shareholders. Well some of those shareholders are customers too, but that doesn’t seem to matter.
Older Bribie Islanders say the shift away from local branches to online banking is leaving them behind. In this fast-paced digital world that seems to be updating and changing weekly, you've got to feel sorry for those in the community who can't catch up.
The young savvy ones appear to be on top of every technical movement, tapping away with their phones to pay for purchases and never needing to walk into a bank because everything they need to do can be done online, with a smartphone or even on a digital watch.
But there are many who say they can't grasp these new ways of banking - and a good proportion of them are elderly.
Sure, there are some pretty smart old folk out there who have no troubles doing what their grandchildren can do with a computer, but there are still a lot who can't.
One major bank's data shows they authorise six million online transactions every day and by contrast just 30,000 transactions in a branch: face to face banking in a bricks and mortar bank is dying.
As a result banks are closing branches all over Australia like never before.
Where does that leave those who have always relied on going to the bank to get their cash and make transactions? Ask them and they'll tell you - in a state of panic.
Even before the dust has settled on ANZ announcing plans last year to close 19 of its branches across the country, the bank has recently announced a further 8 branches will close across Queensland and Victoria. The impacted branches are:
BRIBIE ISLAND (QLD)
PORT FAIRY (VIC)
ST ARNAUD (VIC)
The Finance Sector Union (FSU) are reportedly shocked that ANZ continues down the path of closing branches. They say it shows an utter disregard of workers commitment and hard work during the COVID-19 crisis and of the essential service that branches provide to the wider community.
The FSU held a member meeting on Tuesday 16 March, where staff were able to ask questions, seek advice, and provide feedback to be submitted anonymously. This type of corporate bank consultation with workers merely pays lip service to industrial laws that surround making staff redundant and is fairly meaningless.
As for consultation with customers, that is non-existent.
Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh was the Premier of Queensland, however her priorities seem to have changed since joining the corporate ranks. In a recent statement she said:
Over the last 15 years Australians have overwhelmingly changed the way they bank, from paying with cash to paying with a card, phone or even a watch, with the latest data showing a 16 per cent drop in ATM transactions and a 473 per cent jump in credit or debit card transactions.
The business that happens in a branch has significantly changed. One major bank's data shows they authorise six million online transactions every day and by contrast 30,000 transactions in a branch.
Roy Morgan data shows over the past four years there has been a decline of 1.77 millions customers using branches, compared to a 3.51 million increase in those using an app on their smart phone or table.
Despite the growth in customers who don't use a branch or ATM, our banks continue to maintain a face-to-face presence, whether through a physical branch, franchising agreement or agency arrangement with Australia Post.
While interesting statistics they are possibly not surprising when customers are given little choice by the big banks like ANZ.
If the bank was losing money people could understand these things needing to happen but it seems the banks have come out of the COVID crisis stronger than ever according to the ANZ Bank CEO in his speech to shareholders in December 2020 where he said:
Our work to simplify and strengthen the bank has materially lowered our exposure to potential credit and operational risks.
It’s worth remembering how we have de-risked your bank over the recent years, including actions like:
Exiting Asia retail and commercial;
Selling Esanda motor dealer finance business;
Prioritising owner occupied home loans over investor;
Not providing a retail home-loan offering to self-managed super funds;
Maintaining the lowest exposure to commercial property of the major banks; and
And of course…more recently…exiting life insurance, superannuation and financial planning.
At ANZ, we moved from 11 large buildings globally, each housing over 1,000 colleagues, to a network of 40,000 home offices.
We became a distributed network overnight and as a result we are more responsive and flexible than ever before.
It hasn’t been easy for our people. Most have been forced to work from home, with many having to juggle multiple commitments including remote learning for young children.
Despite this they haven’t missed a beat, possibly best evidenced by the record volumes of home loans processed through this period. I’m really proud of what they have achieved and I’m proud to call them my colleagues.
No doubt this has been a tough year and shareholders have unfortunately also been impacted.
We take our role in protecting and enhancing your wealth seriously.
Through our actions over the last few years, we have freed up $12.5 billion of your capital, which has enabled us to invest in the business while buying back more than 100 million shares.
As a result, we are the only major bank in Australia that hasn’t diluted shareholders in recent years.
And this puts us in a very strong position to support customers while still providing you with a decent return.
All well and good for some I suppose but where does that leave the community that has supported this bank for over 100 years. Whistling Dixie I guess.
By Staff Writer Mozza