As the big banks continue to close branches across Australia, we await to see if Northern Beaches local branches disappear, forcing many onto internet banking or to travel further for their personal banking needs.
Manly Observer contacted the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac Group, ANZ and National Australia Bank but none was willing to provide a clear answer regarding possible branch closures on the Northern Beaches.
What’s happening with banks nationally?
Australia’s major banks will close 37 branches in coming months, with 182 staff to lose their jobs, according to the Finance Sector Union.
The Westpac Group will close 24 branches, CBA will close five and the NAB will close eight banks, the union says.
Westpac may close a further 100 branches over 18 months as it merges branches of its main brand with those of subsidiaries like St. George Bank, which could lead to job losses.
The Big Four have closed more than 550 bank branches across Australia since January 2020.
Of the banks Manly Observer contacted, CBA was “unable to confirm” any branch closures in the Northern Beaches, while NAB did not “have a statement for publication.”
The ANZ similarly refused to provide a comment, while the Westpac Group didn’t respond at all.
Westpac has stated it had already co-located 21 branches and was “reviewing opportunities” for about 100 more in its network of 800 branches, according to a report by The Australian.
Impact on seniors
For older Australians or people living with disabilities, the banking industry’s cost-cutting measures have turned financial management into an onerous undertaking.
Many don’t trust the internet and are not literate, using their weekly bank trip as a social outing that they don’t otherwise get.
Ian Yates, Chief Executive, Council of the Ageing (COTA) Australia said older Australians were adapting to online banking, but there remained many elderly residents who had not adapted, especially those with disabilities.
“We hear from some older people that are confident of their banks online processes, while others are seeking support as they begin to learn how to adapt to online processes,” Mr Yates said.
“But for more vulnerable customers such as older Australians and people with a disability the impact of removing face to face services can be profound. We know during the pandemic that there were hundreds of thousands of bank accounts, many of them held by older people, that never had an ATM card associated with the account. They would use their chequing or bank book to withdraw funds over the counter once a fortnight to use for their shopping.
“In the Northern Beaches many older people who no longer drive rely on the local bus service to get to and from their local shops. If a bank is no longer located at their local shop, this will mean for these more vulnerable bank users the need to take another bus to a different branch further away.”
“In the Northern Beaches many older people who no longer drive rely on the local bus service to get to and from their local shops. If a bank is no longer located at their local shop, this will mean for these more vulnerable bank users the need to take another bus to a different branch further away, just to get the cash they need to purchase food for the fortnight.
“Anything banks can to support people without an ATM getting their cash and educate their customers on how to use online services is a good thing and we’d encourage them to do more.”
A spokesperson from the Manly Business Chamber was, however, more optimistic that the big banks would remain open in Manly area.
“The Manly Business Chamber believes it is essential that the four big banks remain in the Manly CBD, with our strong retail and hospitality presence requiring daily or weekly business banking needs.
“We are confident they are not going anywhere with many of them having recently relocated with new leases and fit outs.”
Time will tell.