Monday, January 27, 2014

Bank of America shed more branches than any bank in 2013

Bank of America cut more branches than any other bank in 2013, as the banking industry as a whole shed more branches than it added, according to a recent report by SNL Financial.

For the year, the industry had a net loss of 1,487 branches. Bank of America had a net loss of 189 branches after adding 14 and cutting 203, more than any of its peers.

Banks have been reducing their branch numbers as they seek to slash expenses amid higher regulatory costs and weak revenue growth. The reduction in branches also comes as banks see less need for them as more of their customers use online and mobile banking.

At the same time that they are trimming branches, some banks are experimenting with smaller branches that have fewer tellers and cost less to operate. Many bankers say branches remain an important part of their business model.

Charlotte-based Bank of America, which is cutting personnel and other costs through its Project New BAC initiative, ended 2013 with 5,151 branches. Some of the reduction stems from the sale of branches to other banks

Bank of America's branches could fall even more. Chief Financial Officer Bruce Thomspon told investors this month that the bank could end 2014 with fewer than 5,000 branches.

Last year, Bank of America ended drive-up teller service at some branches, including in the Charlotte region.