Where banks are shutting down branches

 

A HANDFUL of employees are expected to lose their jobs as three banks announce closures of some Queensland branches due to an increasingly cashless society.

The Brisbane suburb of Acacia Ridge will lose both a Westpac and National Australia Bank branch by the end of August while other banks plans closures for Toowong and the Gold Coast.

The Acacia Ridge branch of Westpac will close tomorrow, with customers directed to use the closest Westpac branch in Inala, almost 8km away.

Suncorp's Toowong store is set to close on August 16, with NAB branches at Acacia Ridge and Ashmore on the Gold Coast scheduled to close on August 22.

Heritage Bank also recently closed two branches last month, one in Mt Ommaney and one at Cleveland.

Officials from all of the banks said the closures, which include removals of ATMS, followed an increase in customers using online services.

At NAB, one person has been transferred to another role while five employees across the two branches will be made redundant.

Both Suncorp and Westpac officials said possible job losses could not be confirmed as consultation was still under way with employees impacted by any changes.

All Heritage employees were transferred to other roles.

Letters have been sent to customers notifying them of the imminent branch closures.

NAB and other banks set to close more branches in Queensland soon. Picture: Supplied/Facebook
NAB and other banks set to close more branches in Queensland soon. Picture: Supplied/Facebook

NAB General Manager Metro Queensland Paul Collin said the way customers were banking had changed.

"Increasingly we find our customers are using online banking and mobile apps more, cards instead of cash, and in Acacia Ridge and Ashmore around 80 per cent of our customers are also visiting other nearby branches in the local area," he said in an emailed statement.

In March, NAB announced branches in rural and regional Australia would remain open until at least January 2021.

Many of the banks, including NAB and Westpac, said their customers will still be able to access banking through their local post offices and most banks no longer charge fees for ATM use.

A Westpac spokeswoman said there were three other ATMs plus an arrangement with a post office just metres away from the Acacia Ridge branch.

"Over the past three years we have seen a significant decline in transactions and customer usage at this branch and more than half of customers at this branch are now undertaking their banking via digital channels," she said.

Heritage Bank spokesman Andrew Fox said the closure of that bank's locations was more about moving branches to growing areas of Queensland.

"We believe that number of branches is about right for us, and we don't have any plans to cut total branch numbers," he said.

"Unlike many other competitors, we believe in the value of having a bricks and mortar presence, as well as a great digital offering."

File photo: A Heritage bank branch in Brisbane. The bank is among a number of others who have, or who are, closing branches in Queensland. Heritage Bank has also opened two new branches. Picture: David Clark Photography
File photo: A Heritage bank branch in Brisbane. The bank is among a number of others who have, or who are, closing branches in Queensland. Heritage Bank has also opened two new branches. Picture: David Clark Photography

Mr Fox said if one branch was closed, a new one was opened elsewhere.

"In some cases, the demographics of an area have changed since we first opened there and the location just does not work any longer, or the branch may be in a shopping centre that is no longer popular," he said.

"That's why, in the last 12 months, we opened a new branch at Coomera on the Gold Coast last October, but closed a branch at Mt Ommaney last month and at Cleveland last week."

Amy Brunner, posting to an Acacia Ridge community group on Facebook, said the bank closures would "become more common place."

"I can hardly remember the last time I had physical cash on me unless it was because a store did not have EFTPOS," she wrote.

"But it's still a shame as not everyone wants to or can do cashless (my grandmother for example."