Question and Answer
Why are the branch network updates being made?
The sole reason is due to member behaviour. Less and less members are coming into the branches to do their banking and now prefer to transact online. Therefore we must improve the services members are now expecting, these being online banking for simple transactions and 'relationship banking' for more complex interactions.
Is this only happening at Regional Australia Bank?
No. In fact, Jan-June 2016 saw 315 branches close among banks, building societies and credit unions. We are not immune to having to adapt to changing customer preferences.
When will these branch network updates take affect?
The changes to branch operating hours will occur at varying times over the next few months. Members will be notified in writing at least 4 weeks before changes are scheduled to occur.
Is Regional Australia Bank not performing? Should there be concern about closures or reductions in hours?
No, and in fact, Regional Australia Bank has performed better in the last financial year than it ever has before. We have been slowly reducing hours in branches over the last few years in response to shifting consumer preferences and these updates are simply a continuation of that.
So, is this a cost cutting measure designed to increase Regional Australia Bank's performance?
Our performance has largely been on the revenue side of our business, not the cost side. In fact, we remain one of the best mutual banks in the country for revenue growth and it's our people that have really helped drive this growth.
It's really important to understand this is not a cost cutting exercise. We have great people in our business however we must respond to changing preferences toward online services, and this continues to soar at an ever increasing rate.
Further, this response should not be viewed as a withdrawal. It's more of a refocus of energy and resources to ensure we meet our member demands to change. We are determined to provide a great customer experience for our members day-to-day banking needs as well as the highest possible level of service for members who come to us for more complex banking needs (bar none).
Shouldn't 'Regional Australia' Bank be more committed to its 'Regions' and maintain these services?
Regional Australia Bank is very committed to maintain a face-to-face presence where it is sustainable to do so. We understand that these decisions will impact on the banking habits of some of our elderly and small business members. We will be communicating directly with those members affected and working with them to help with changes to their banking habits moving forward.
Why doesn't Regional Australia Bank reduce community investment or sponsorships to keep the branch service open?
We pride ourselves as being connected to our communities. Redistributing some of the profits we make to our communities continues a longstanding commitment designed to help share the benefits of being a mutual. We have taken the view that reducing investment in other areas of the business in order to finance a service that is in steep decline is not sustainable in either the short or long term. It is far more prudent to streamline branch operating hours in areas of low demand so that we can continue to support our treasured communities and member interests long into the future.
Is this a direct result of changing to a 'Bank'?
No, we rebranded in August 2016, yet we had been slowly reducing hours in branches many years prior to this under our previous 'mutual' brand. This is simply a continuation of a program which seeks to follow the change in member behaviour.
We still maintain the same ownership structure. We are a mutual bank which means we are not conflicted by shareholder interest at the expense of the member. Providing value for members continues to be our sole priority and as it happens, what they are valuing most is the very thing that's driving these changes.