BoQ branches facing the chop

Bank of Queensland looks set to close branches as part of a push to cut expenses and lift the performance of its retail banking arm.

Bank of Queensland looks set to close branches as part of a push to cut expenses and lift the performance of its retail banking arm.

The lender is also preparing to restructure commissions paid to its owner-manager branch network, in an attempt to lower the risk of loans it writes.

In an investor briefing on Thursday, the bank's head of retail and online banking, Matt Baxby, said BoQ's network of branches was delivering a lower market share than other lenders' branch networks.

Mr Baxby said he expected the bank's branch footprint to fall, and it was "actively looking" at different formats and operating models.

"We have about 4 per cent distribution in terms of points of presence, delivering 2 per cent market share," Mr Baxby said. "We have a third of the size of Westpac's network, delivering about a 10th of their market share. So I think overall ... we are probably slightly overweight as we stand here today."

As customers flock to digital banking and revenues come under pressure, banks have been shrinking the average area of their branches. Mr Baxby said BoQ was considering this option as well.

At the same time as it considers closing branches, BoQ is trying to reach a broader range of customers through the use of mortgage brokers and its Virgin Money business, which it bought from Richard Branson for $40 million in April.

BOQ has about 180 owner-manager branches and 90 corporate branches. The bank did not say where any cuts were likely, but it is understood the corporate branches are the main underperformers.

The potential closures contrast with the bank's aggressive expansion across the country under former chief executive David Liddy.

The bank will next year change the way it pays commissions to its network of owner-managers, in a move to encourage more cross-selling and less risky lending. Branches heavily skewed to lending would be worse off under the changes, managers with a more balanced book would be better off.

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