Finance · 25 January 2017

HSBC ends restructuring with swathe of UK branch closures

HSBC
The bank will have 625 open UK branches by the end of the year

High street bank HSBC has announced the planned closure of 62 of its UK branches in 2017, in a move that will have an affect on local business owners across the country.

Marking an end to a five year-long branch restructuring programme, the planned closures will mean that by the end of the year, HSBC will have 625 open UK branches.

Reflecting a marked change in the way people interact with their bank, HSBC revealed that the number of customers using its branches has dropped by 40 per cent since 2012.

As much as 93 per cent of customer contact with the lender is now done via telephone, smartphone or internet, while 97 per cent of cash withdrawals are made via an ATM.

In a statement, HSBC’s retail banking and wealth management head for UK and Europe, Francesca McDonagh, said that planned closures for 2017 were part of the bank’s goal of achieving a more sustainable branch network in the long-term.

“We will have fewer but better branches, with more empowered front line colleagues using a greater range of technology to support all our customers’ needs,” added McDonagh.

In a further announcement, HSBC has said it is investing $1bn globally into its digital capability – a significant proportion of which will be in the UK. The lender has claimed 90 per cent of its customer interactions happened through digital channels in 2016, a 10 per cent increase from the previous year.

McDonagh went on to say: “The way our customers bank with us is changing. More customers are using mobile and internet banking than ever before, and innovation such as Touch and Voice ID has proved extremely popular. Fewer people are using branches.

To help people deal with the transition, HSBC has partnered with the Post Office to enable customers to carry out their day-to-day banking needs without disruption. In all 11,600 local Post Office locations throughout the country, HSBC customers can continue to carry out basic banking tasks.

However, the lender has admitted that this final step in its restructuring programme will likely result in 180 redundancies among its staff.

“Our priority now is to work with colleagues, our customers and the communities impacted by today’s announcement,” commented HSBC’s chief executive, Antonio Simoes.

“We will offer customers individual sessions to help explain their options or provide help in setting up telephone, mobile or internet banking. We now feel we have the right branch network that complements the other ways in which customers now choose to interact with us.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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