ASB Bank closing nine branches in New Zealand's main centres

No jobs will be lost as a result of the closures, the bank says.
No jobs will be lost as a result of the closures, the bank says. Photo credit: ASB Bank

ASB Bank will close nine of its 118 New Zealand branches, with 25 others permanently moving to three days a week - but no jobs will be lost as a result of the move.

The changes, to be implemented on August 3, come amid "very low" customer numbers at some branches in New Zealand's main cities.

Craig Sims, ASB's executive general manager for retail banking, says some stores serve less than 1000 customers each year - about "two or three day a day".

"There is a branch nearby for customers to use," he said. "Our decision is motivated by a desire to provide a better overall personal experience for customers and our people."

Sims is adamant no jobs will be lost as part of the upheaval, with staff at the closing branches to be given roles at other branches or to be trained to do different jobs within the company.

ASB is also recruiting for more than 150 roles to provide specialist guidance and advice to its customers across its phone, online and branch network.

Sims says the changes come as Kiwis' expectations of what banks should offer have shifted.

"In the past five years for example, at ASB we've seen a 42 percent decline in branch transactions, and now 85 percent of our personal customers prefer the convenience of our online and mobile services," he said.

"Add to that, since lockdown in March around 13,500 customers have used our digital channels for the first time to do their banking and they’re continuing to do so."

He says while the closures will be disappointing for some customers, ASB isn't diminishing its support of them.

"We will still have 109 branches across the country," he said. "We will be proactively calling customers we know who use an impacted branch and letting them know how we will be supporting them through this transition."

A Reserve Bank Financial Stability report released in May found banks were well-positioned to weather the economic damage wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While there remains considerable uncertainty about the economic outlook, stress tests suggest that banks can withstand a broad range of adverse economic scenarios while retaining sufficient capital to continue lending," the report stated.

The report, released every six months, reviews the soundness and efficiency of the New Zealand financial system.