Smaller is beautiful for bank

When banks were looking to cut costs in the 1990s, the industry sparked a political and customer backlash by making deep cuts in the number of branches.

When banks were looking to cut costs in the 1990s, the industry sparked a political and customer backlash by making deep cuts in the number of branches.

Now, facing similar pressures to cut their expenses, banks have a slightly different plan. Instead of shrinking in number, branches are shrinking in size.

NAB became the latest lender to announce, on Wednesday, plans to cut the average size of its bank branches, as consumers embrace online banking.

Chief executive Cameron Clyne said the move was part of a revamp of technological systems to allow more "self-service" by customers online and with smartphones. It will also place a greater emphasis on using branches to sell financial services, rather than a "full-service" offering.

"We are going to reduce our store footprint in metreage by 25 per cent, but not the number of outlets," Mr Clyne said.

In 2012, banks opened another 65 branches nationwide, the largest expansion in three years.

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