From the Newsroom

CBA: closing Maclean branch a ‘difficult decision’

Geoff Helisma

The Independent sent the following enquiry to the CBA, and posed similar questions to Westpac, which is rumoured to be closing in early 2022 – CBA responded, Westpac did not, a Westpac Maclean branch employee was “unable” to comment.

 

Many people and businesses in Maclean and surrounds are not happy about the closure of the Maclean CBA branch.

Why is the branch closing?

How does CBA expect citizens and businesses to do their banking?

Will the bank be removing/closing its ATM, too?

The closure will have a direct effect on cash-reliant businesses, what does the CBA say to those people?

If a rumour that Westpac is going to close its branch next year is true, Maclean will not have a bank in the town (apart from BCU), which services at least 5,000 people – what is CBA’s explanation to those people, particularly the area’s older generations, who will be most affected?

And what do you say to business people who will be forced to travel greater distances to complete their banking?

CBA’s emailed response: Norm Swift, regional general manager, said, “We regularly review our branch locations across Australia to help us make informed decisions on where to open new branches, where to renovate or upgrade existing branches, and in some instances where to close branches.

“Following a recent review, we made the difficult decision to permanently close our Maclean branch.

“This branch has had a 43 per cent drop in transactions over the five years before the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have redeployed more than 95 per cent of staff from branches that have closed.

“Our people from Maclean branch will be offered redeployment opportunities, including roles supporting customers over the phone and online, or other comparable roles where it suits them.

“We recognise some senior customers prefer to do their banking face-to-face and this is one of the reasons why CBA is proud to maintain the largest branch network in the country.

“Each year, we invest around $50 million in our branch network, to upgrade and refurbish existing branches and open new branches where we see customer demand.

“We’ve ensured customers who prefer over-the-counter service still have access to this option.

“For Maclean customers, we have other branches in the region at Yamba and Grafton.

“We’ve found that 28 per cent of customers from Maclean are already visiting these branches.

“We understand this change may affect the way our customers bank, however, the team at Maclean branch are [sic] available until Friday, 19 November 2021, to help customers find the solutions that best suit their needs.

“For customers who prefer face-to-face options, [email protected] is also available down the road at the Maclean LPO Australia Post outlet for personal and business banking transactions.

“We’ve recently renewed this service until 2032, so customers can continue to make withdrawals, deposits and bill payments including passbooks during normal business hours.

“Customers can also access their accounts 24 hours a day through NetBank or the CommBank App. We are also available for general banking enquiries, through our locally-based contact centres on 13 22 21, every day between 6am and 10pm.”

Mr Swift did not directly address the plight of pensioners in his response; however, this statement was part of the “background” provided by CBA: “Customers in older demographics are also actively engaging with CBA online.

“In a monthly comparison during 2020, we found more than twice as many customers over 60 accessed NetBank or the CommBank app compared to those who visited a branch in the preceding three-month period.”

Background:

  • The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a continuing shift in banking behaviour, with a significant portion of our customers seeking assistance through our Australian-based contact centres, who receive more than a million calls every month.
  • Naturally, this has also resulted in a significant increase in customers self-serving on the CommBank app or via NetBank with over 7.5 million digitally active customers.
  • Before the coronavirus pandemic, around two-thirds of our customers were using these digital channels for their everyday banking needs, like transferring funds, making payments and checking account balances, while only 6 per cent of customers visited our branches for these tasks.
  • Broadly, visitor numbers to our branches have fallen 22 per cent since last year, with some trading branches seeing customer visits fall by more than 50 per cent during this period. Conversely, in FY21 we saw 6.8 million CommBank app logins per day, peaking at 10.7 million daily logins on the app and NetBank portal in April 2021.
  • Branch usage has steadily dropped 32% since January 2019. Meanwhile, Digital interactions have continued to grow, up 10% since 2019, as customers shift away from assisted channels. 64% of customers used a digital channel in the last 6 months, and digital is now the primary channel of use among 16-to-69-year-olds.
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