Bank Branch Closings Accelerate as Consolidations Continue to Rise
Banks are closing more branches at a faster pace as clients choose technology over tellers, with the outlets shut in the third quarter running about 50 percent higher than the quarterly average over the past two years.
Branch consolidation in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market has been a response to the growing use of mobile apps to complete banking transactions that used to occur face-to-face. However, in their most recent earnings reports calls, bankers indicate the latest round of consolidations is helping them meet expense reduction goals.
This report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.
The nation’s more than 5,400 banks closed 1,129 offices in the third quarter in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. They opened only 507, resulting in a net loss of 622 branches or roughly 3.4 million square feet based on the average size of a bank branch. Over the past two years, the net loss of bank branches per quarter averaged 422.
Wells Fargo & Co. is one of the banks most actively shrinking its portfolio in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties market. In the third quarter, it consolidated 93 branches and said it was on track to consolidate 300 branches this year. In the fourth quarter, it expects to complete the previously announced divestiture of 52 branches to Flagstar Bancorp. As of Sept. 30, there was about $2.12 billion of deposits attached to those 52 Wells Fargo bank branches.
Wells Fargo’s downsizing across its U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings began last year. With about 5,940 offices in the United States, Wells has plans to shrink to about 5,000 branch locations by 2020. The moves are designed to help reduce Wells Fargo’s annual expenses expectations for 2018 of $53.5 billion to a range of $50 billion to $51 billion for the full year 2020.
SunTrust Banks too has already been well into the process of consolidating branches in the U.S. commercial real estate market, including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space. The institution has closed 74 locations in the past year, according to FDIC data.
“We’ve actually shrunk our branch count by about 25 percent already,” Allison Dukes, SunTrust chief financial officer, told analysts. “As I think about where we could go from here, I’d say, we expect to continue to shrink our branch network somewhere in the range of 4 percent or so a year.”
The percentage to close in SunTrust’s national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings base will be influenced by consumer behavior patterns and the need to deliver continuous efficiency improvement, Dukes said.
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