Big Four banks quizzed on cull
MPs grill execs on branch closures
BOSSES of Britain’s Big Four banks yesterday sought to defend a mass branch cull.
Executives from Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and NatWest Group were grilled by MPs ahead of another wave of closures.
Consumer group Which? says banks and building societies have shut – or are scheduled to shut – 5469 branches since January 2015, at a rate of around 54 each month.
Speaking to the treasury committee, Ian Stuart, chief exec of HSBC UK, insisted the bank was “absolutely committed to a physical footprint in the UK”.
He told the hearing: “We think it’s important, but we have to get it scaled properly for the long term.”
It comes two months after HSBC revealed plans to close a further 114 branches in the UK – more than a quarter of its network.
Dame Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group, said: “We’re seeing significant shifts in customer behaviour, but we recognise we need to look after all of our customers and make sure that we support particularly vulnerable customers.”
Which? says the group will have closed 1257 branches by the end of 2023 – more than any other.
Lloyds Banking Group boss Charlie Nunn said: “We remain very committed to our branch network”, despite Which? claiming it’s shut 925 branches since 2015.
Execs were also asked if banks rely on customer inertia over moving accounts.
Matt Hammerstein, Barclays’ UK boss, insisted: “I don’t think that’s in any way representative of the way we design products or the way we engage customers.”