Bankwest to close east coast branches, refocus on digital
Bankwest has announced the closure of 29 east coast branches, saying it will redirect investments to its digital and mobile offerings.
Managing Director Rowan Munchenberg said Bankwest's inability to match the major banks’ nation-wide footprint meant it was necessary to prioritise digital channels and broker relationships.
Munchenberg blamed rapid changes in the digital space for the branch closures, forcing the bank to “to make important decisions on where to invest.”
“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,” Munchenberg said.
“[Customers] increasingly expect seamless self-service options that allow them to do their banking when and where they choose,” he added.
Headquartered in Western Australia and wholly owned by CBA, Bankwest said the closure would affect up to 200 employees. The bank said it would seek to find new roles for affected staff within CBA's operations.
“We will work with and support impacted colleagues in the coming weeks, doing what we can to help them identify other opportunities, be they within or outside of the Group,” Munchenberg said.
Finance Sector Union national secretary Julia Angrisano said the decision – which closes 68 per cent of east coast branches – had come as a shock to the bank's employees.
"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," Angrisano said.
A total of 29 branches will close over a three-week period from 17 August, concentrating the bank’s east coast footprint into 14 key branches. More than half the branch closures are in NSW, with the remainder in Victoria and Queensland.
Bankwest’s partial east coast withdrawal is not expected to impact its staple WA-based branches, where an “established footprint enables us to maintain highly competitive branch and digital offerings,” Munchenberg said.